LINGUIST List 3.947

Wed 02 Dec 1992

Disc: Articles

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , articles and university names
  2. mark, Re 3.929 Articles and Names
  3. benji wald, Re: 3.932 Articles and Names
  4. , Re: 3.939 Articles and Names
  5. , definitized Christian names
  6. John Cowan, the former Yugoslavia

Message 1: articles and university names

Date: 30 Nov 1992 09:39:15 -0700articles and university names
From: <>
Subject: articles and university names

As far as I know, Brigham Young University is never referred to with the
article, but it is quite common for locals in Provo to refer to the
institution as "the BYU". Perhaps this is by analogy with "the U of U" and
other institutions where the article appears in the name of the institution
in the first place. Do other institution names show similar anomolies?

Dil Parkinson
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re 3.929 Articles and Names

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 92 11:47:48 ESRe 3.929 Articles and Names
From: mark <>
Subject: Re 3.929 Articles and Names

It's not just musicians who call it "Handel's 'Messiah'". I
recall a columnist, years ago, who would occasionally publish a
(purported) dialogue with "my friend 'Handles' Messiah, the
professional pallbearer". The joke would've been lost if readers
normally used the article in naming the oratorio.

Of course Handel titled it "*The* Messiah", or whatever in German
("Der Messias"?), but English only allows one determiner to an
NP. If "Handel's" is in, "The" is out, unless you pause to
provide an intonational frame corresponding to the quotation
marks and capital letters.

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: 3.932 Articles and Names

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 92 17:46 PST
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.932 Articles and Names

Bill Bennett noted on 24 Nov that French uses the article with personal
names for pejoration. I have noticed that the article is commonly used
not only in French, but also in Spanish and German with personal names.
Pejoration does not seem to be a necessary connotation, sometimes
familiarity or intimacy seems more likely. In any case, I assume that
such use of the article is common in Western European languages. The
most I have been able to find out from casual questioning is that
speakers of these languages tend to consider it nonstandard. If some
readers of this posting are more familiar with the purpose of this use
of the article in continental West European languages, I and no doubt
other readers here would be interested in hearing. Recall that Greek
has long used the article with personal names. The generalisation of
the article to more and more contexts is a familiar process. However,
the issue at hand is what speakers make of the variation between use and
nonuse at present in French, Spanish, German, .... Benji Wald
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Re: 3.939 Articles and Names

Date: 01 Dec 1992 10:17:10 +0800Re: 3.939 Articles and Names
From: <MATTHEWSHKUCC.bitnet>
Subject: Re: 3.939 Articles and Names

 Here at the University of Hong Kong we have recently had a team of
consultants at work to revamp our image for the '90s, at considerable expense.
One of their prime recommendations: always use the article, as in
THE University of Hong Kong. All stationery has been redesigned in accordance
with the New Image and we are enjoined not to drop the article, having
acquired it at a price.
 The example could be used in a semantics/pragmatics course, as the
intention is clearly to imply a spurious uniqueness in the face of
competition from two other universities in Hong Kong...
Steve Matthews
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 5: definitized Christian names

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1992 23:33:44 definitized Christian names
From: <>
Subject: definitized Christian names

In connection with the recent discussion of the use of articles with place
names and other proper nouns, Bill Bennett (3.932) and Pat Coppock (3.939)
have mentioned the use of articles or other determiners or 'definitizers'
with the names of individual human beings. This reminds me that, in
Southern Germany (my ancestors' homeland, to which i have occasionally
returned), it appears to be the custom, in some colloquial registers, to
refer to (mutual?) acquaintances by their first names preceded by the
definite article. I distinctly remember my brother being introduced as
'der Peter'. I sometimes wonder what happens when a child's name is in the
diminuative form, since diminuative suffixes in German typically impose
neuter gender on their hosts. Does one then refer to 'das Hanschen', 'das

Then again, in the area of Germany where this practice seems to be common,
'-chen' isn't the typical diminuative, as anyone with a name like mine
should know. I don't know if the High German dialectal diminuative '-l(e)'
carries any gender repercussions. Can one speak of 'der Hansel', 'die
Gretel'? (I rather hope so, since i occasionally refer to my daughter as
'Gretel'). Anyone out there able to speak knowledgeably on this topic?
Steven Schaufele c/o Department of Linguistics
712 W. Washington Ave. University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801 4088 Foreign Languages Building
 707 S. Mathews Street
217-344-8240 Urbana, IL 61801
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 6: the former Yugoslavia

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1992 10:36:51 the former Yugoslavia
From: John Cowan <cowanuunet.UU.NET>
Subject: the former Yugoslavia

There's a Thurber cartoon, undoubtedly once published in the >New Yorker<,
which shows a naked woman kneeling atop a bookcase. At the foot of the
bookcase is a small group of people; one of them (a man) is saying,
"That's my first wife up there, and this is the >present< Mrs. Harris."
[Emphasis in original.]

I would have no difficulty in labeling the woman atop the bookcase as
"the former Mrs. Harris". Likewise, we can have "the former Gold Coast"
and "the former Yugoslavia". Specifically, Bosnia is not part of Yugoslavia,
but it is part of the former Yugoslavia.

John Cowan ...!uunet!cbmvax!snark!cowan
 e'osai ko sarji la lojban.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue