LINGUIST List 2.831

Mon 02 Dec 1991

Disc: Names

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Dennis Baron, names
  2. Bill Poser, articles with names in Catalan
  3. , Re: 2.826 Names
  4. "Sharon L. Shelly", Re: 2.804 Names
  5. William Robboy, Lesbian Relationships
  6. Petur Knutsson, names in Iceland

Message 1: names

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 91 13:39:41 CST
From: Dennis Baron <>
Subject: names
Sorry I haven't been following the name discussion very
closely. If the semester ever ends, I'll get someone
to teach me how to retrieve archive files of discussions.
Anyway, the _OED_ attributes the use of _the_ + last name
in reference to women (specifically singers and actresses)
to imitation of the French/Italian practice, s.v. _the_. It is
extended to women who seem, in the (male) speaker's view,
to be prima donnas, though I expect it's not as common now
as it was in 19c and earlier 20c. Of course, _the_ was
formerly more common than it is now in such expressions as
_the chess_, _the dressmaking_ (we see remnants of this
in _the law_, _the arts_).
-- ____________ 217-333-2392
 |:~~~~~~~~~~:| fax: 217-333-4321
Dennis Baron |: :|
Dept. of English |: db :|
Univ. of Illinois |: :|
608 S. Wright St. |:==========:|
Urbana IL 61801 \\ """""""" \
 \\ """""""" \
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: articles with names in Catalan

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 91 21:38:18 PST
From: Bill Poser <poserCsli.Stanford.EDU>
Subject: articles with names in Catalan
My understanding is that the variation between en and el
before consonant-initial masculine names in Catalan is a matter
of geographic dialect, not register. Most of the time I have spent
in Catalunya was in Girona (where Castillian has made fewer
inroads than in Barcelona), and my impression is that there
en is always used, but speakers from other areas have told me that
they do not use en. In Girona contractions of prepositions
and articles also show the special form, so that we have
can for ca + en, e.g. can Joan "chez Juan".
Historically, special forms were more widespread. n' was used
before vowel-initial masculine names, and na was used before
feminine names, e.g. na Maria. You can see this not only
in old texts, but also on street signs, which frequently
retain archaic forms.
						Bill Poser
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: 2.826 Names

Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1991 15:14 EST
From: <CARTERACFcluster.NYU.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.826 Names
The medieval Arab grammarians treat all metalanguage items as proper names,
which shows up nice and clearly when you say "this <word> book", kitaab
haadhaa, with the demonstrative following the noun as it would if it were a
proper name, e.g. muHammad haadhaa = "this Muhammad", contrast "book" as
a common noun in the phrase haadhaa l-kitaab "this book". I wrote an article
on this topic which may make sense to non-Arabists (everything is in
transliteration and translated), in Historiographia Linguistica, vol. 8,
no. 2/3, 1981, entitled "The use of proper names as a testing device in
Sibawayhi's Kitab", the Kitab being the first and greatest grammatical
 treatise in Arabic, written towards the end of the 8th cent A.D.
M. G. Carter, New York University
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Re: 2.804 Names

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 91 12:58:38 EST
From: "Sharon L. Shelly" <>
Subject: Re: 2.804 Names
	In reference to the discussion of definite articles with
	proper names: does anyone know how/why Donald Trump was
	dubbed "The Donald"? And does the use of the article reflect
	any particular attitude of respect (or lack thereof)?
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: Lesbian Relationships

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 91 15:37:49 -0600
From: William Robboy <>
Subject: Lesbian Relationships
In Seamus Cooney's message of Nov. 23 on the topic Names, he writes:
>In D. H. Lawrence's "The Fox," he refers frequently to one of his pair
>of female characters -- the one who is more or less the "male" in what
>we assume to be a lesbian relationship -- as "The Banford." I've
I must beg the List's indulgence for addressing a non-linguistic issue,
the more so since I haven't even read "The Fox," and Prof. Cooney's
intent is unclear to me, though I'm sure it was not malign. But I
can't let this go by without remark. None of the lesbian relationships
I'm acquainted with can be said illuminatingly to have anybody in them
who is more or less the "male," whatever that means. Perhaps it says something
enlightening about the relationship Lawrence was depicting, or more generally
about relationships depicted in Prof. Cooney's area of literature.
It might even say something illuminating about real-life lesbian relationships
in the time and place Lawrence was writing in, or writing about. Maybe Prof.
Cooney meant one or more of these things. But in the absence of any such
clarification, I'm afraid the effect is simply to activate ignorant
William Robboy	blawlrwyuiamvs.bitnet
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 6: names in Iceland

Date: Mon, 2 Dec 91 12:20:43 GMT
From: Petur Knutsson <>
Subject: names in Iceland
Before we accept David Gil's triangular sprachbund (21 Nov 91) we should make a
distinction between the restrictive use of the article with names, anticipating
a definitive relation:
(1) The Paul I remember
and the familiar use:
(2) Tiens! C'est la Jeanne!
where (1) might be more widespread (it's English, for instance) than (2).
Here's the situation in Icelandic. (In parenthesis, since the subject has come
up: use of first (given-) names is obligatory in Icelandic in all situations,
all registers. Patronymics, as some contributors have pointed out, are the norm,
but surnames are not uncommon. However surnames seem to have the same
secondary-identification function as patronymics: it would make no more sense to
call an Icelander by her patronymic alone, his surname (truly a sur-name) alone,
or her title (Oh look! here comes PhD!). Thus Icelanders are listed
alphabetically by their first names, for instance in the telephone directory.
Close parenthesis.)
Icelandic does not normally use the article in either (1) or (2). Possibly
because since the definite artice (there is no indefinite article) is suffixed
to the noun it would change the shape of the name rather oddly.
Thus in sense (1):
(3) Madurinn sem eg man eftir 'The man (whom) I remember' where madur = man NOM
MASC, inn = the NOM MASC
but not
(4) *Pallinn sem eg man eftir 'The Paul (whom) I remember' where Pall = Paul NOM
MASC, inn = the NOM MASC.
A non-devious form of (4) would use the demonstrative pronoun, anticipating the
relative pronoun:
(5) Sa Pall sem eg man eftir 'That (NOM MASC) Paul (whom) I remember'
- although one can postulate marginally acceptable, for instance jocular,
(6) Hvada Pall? Thetta er ekki Pallinn sem eg thekki 'Which Paul? That's not the
Paul (that) I know'
As for sense (2) - la Jeanne - Icelandic commonly uses a personal NP
construction in which the personal pronoun fills the slot filled by the def
article in some examples we've been having recently:
(7) Hann Jon ser um thetta 'He(NOM MASC) John'll see to that'
(8) Hun Maria veit um hamarinn 'She(NOM FEM) Maria knows where the hammer is'
(9) Segdu honum Joni hvad thu sagdir mer 'Tell him(DAT MASC) John what you told
(10) Gefdu henni Mariu bita 'Give her(DAT FEM) Maria a piece'
Corresponding forms occur with the other two Icelandic cases, ACC and GEN.
This usage is optional, independent of register (colloquial, formal and
literary), and I have the impression that it is favoured in oblique cases, less
common when the NP is the subject of the clause.
When occurring in the plural there is a prescriptive preference for this form in
all syntactical positions, which thus becomes more common in formal/literary
register and actually less common colloquially (regressing in mod. coll. Ice):
(11) Their Pall og Thorsteinn neita ad svara 'They(NOM MASC PLUR) Paul and
Thorsteinn refuse to answer'
(12) Hann taldi thaer Gudrunu og Mariu enntha i husinu 'He believed them(ACC FEM
PLUR) Gudrun and Maria still to be in the house'
Note the use of neuter plural forms to denote a mixture of sexes:
(13) Thau Thorsteinn og Maria toku bilinn 'They (NOM NEUT PLUR) TH. and M took
the car'
This usage allows for one of the names to be dropped in literary style, and this
is still common in colloquial usage, although probably regressing:
(14) Thau Gudrun gengu heim saman 'They (NEUT PLUR) Gudrun walked home together'
(i.e. He and Gudrun walked home together).
(15) Vid Pall erum sammala 'We Paul are in agreement' (i.e. Paul and I...)
(16) Thid Maria farid med Joni 'You (PLUR) Maria will go (PLUR) with John' (i.e.
you and Maria...)
By 'regressing' I mean that an English-type word-order ('He and Gudrun' instead
of 'They NEUT Gudrun', etc.) is becoming common amongst younger speakers.
However the singular use, (7)-(10) above, is holding ground.
This raises another question. What other juicy examples are there out there of
mainstream (read: English) syntax calquing itself upon cherished minority
characteristics? (one at a time, please!) (Petur Knutsson)
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue