LINGUIST List 2.857
Thu 12 Dec 1991
Editor for this issue: <>
Aleksander Murzaku, Re: Names
Hartmut Haberland, Re: Names and articles
"FRANK R. BRANDON", Re: 2.849 Names
bert peeters, Articles before names
"Michel, "The Donald"
, Re: 2.849 Names
Kenesei Istvan, names
Message 1: Names
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 91 10:28:22 SET
In recent posting about 'names' (in Italian) there a re a couple of observatio
s which deserve a quick comment.
a) not only around Piacenza it is possible to use proper names with a
determiner (la Maria). This is quite widespread.
b) 'proper names' is a notion which has to be futher analyzed, because the
behavior of the determiner changes according the type of proper name: whether
it is a 'person' name or a 'place' name (one cannot say *Mediterraneo
c) I have the impression that one should also make a distinction between
different types of articles (il/la vs. uno/una) (cfr. ho visto una bologna
molto imborghesita vs. *ho visto la bologna molto imborghesita).
d) Good linguists should be aware of the fact that Italian grammars have
improved in the last years and that today instad of quoting normative grammars
one can quote a "good" grammar such as the one edited by Renzi (Grande Gramma-
tica di consultazione; and in fact the problem is discussed in vol.1, pp.390-
Best wishes - Sergio Scalise
Message 2: Re: Names
Date: Sat, 07 Dec 91 11:13:02 SET
From: Aleksander Murzaku <MURZAKUIPISNSIB.bitnet>
Subject: Re: Names
I would like to mention an interesting phenomena on albanian names.
Just as the other nouns the names (first names) have different cases and the
article is putted at the end of the word. But the names are never indefinite in
their normal use. There is an exception for the masculine names: when they are
used together with family name or in expressions of presentation (my name is..)
they are always indefinite. This is not true for feminine names. Some times ago
in some albanian journals, there was some efforts to apply the same rule for
feminine names but they sound ridiculous for the albanian people.
| Aleksander Murzaku Tel:+39/50/597342 |
| Scuola Normale Superiore Fax:+39/50/563513 |
| Piazza dei Cavalieri, 7 Bitnet: murzaku AT ipisnsib |
| I-56126 PISA Internet: murzakuvaxsns.infn.it |
Message 3: Re: Names and articles
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 91 13:02:57 MET
From: Hartmut Haberland <hartmutruc.dk>
Subject: Re: Names and articles
Of course, Czech interference is out for "The Donald" since Czech has no
articles, but if it were German, it would sound absolutely perfect, "Der
Donald", especially in this sociolinguistic-pragmatic context. Any evidence of
German exposure in the life history of Ivana Trump?
The strange thing about Germn definite article + proper name is that there are
two variants of it, semantically and (partly) formally; the latter having to
do with the fact that the German definite article comes in two variants which
in the standard language are not distinguished in any other way than that the
one contracts regularly with (certain) prepositions, while the other never
does. (German dialects have different forms for these two variants even when
not contracted, like 'dr' vs. 'd3' (3=open e) in the Nether Rhine area. In
regional German, the neuter nominative singular article has the forms 'das'
and 's' with a similar distinction, as has North Frisian (Fering) with its two
sets of forms of the definite article called 'a-Artikel' and 'd-Artikel'.)
Basically, the difference between the two variants is that the one
(contracting) refers to shared knowledge, whereas the other (non-contracting)
is a long-range anaphora (or what some would call 'text deictic element' which
refers to the communication history of the interlocutors. Thus there is a
Und dann hab ich zum Donald gesagt ... 'and then I said to [the] Donald ...'
Und dann hab ich zu dem Donald gesagt [same, but preposition and article not
contracted, zu dem vs. zum]
The first refers to a person called Donald familiar to both speaker and hearer
and easy to identify because of this, often a member of the close family or a
The latter refers to some person which is idenbtifiable because both
interlocutors have talked so often about him, which may imply a certain
boredom and therefore, a certain negative attitude, perhaps 'that Donald!'.
These two uses are quite distinct.
It would be interesting to know in which sense Ivana Trmp uses 'The Donald'.
Message 4: Re: 2.849 Names
Date: Sat, 7 Dec 91 17:41 CST
From: "FRANK R. BRANDON" <BRANDONgamma.is.tcu.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.849 Names
I'm a new arrival to this discussion. But then maybe the
discussion is new if only now it has been noticed that Czech has no
Besides "The Donald", I recall a sitcom character dubbed
"The Fonz". (I assume the "the" is unstressed in "The Donald" too.) I
have a vague recollection that the head of a Scottish clan was called
"the <clan-name>", e.g. The MacDonald or whatever. I'd assume that
some sort of importance or uniqueness was being ascribed. Wasn't there
also a fad of bombastically referring to female singers, actresses,
etc. as "La <name>"?
On a different tack, "the Arizona" contrasts with "Arizona" to me
completely. It sounds odd to me to use the name of a ship without
Even stranger, why am I hearing about folks being "in hospital"
(no "the") from regular Texas people nowadays? ('regular' as opposed
to 'special' like the Czech descendants from West)
Message 5: Articles before names
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 91 14:15:03 EST
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: Articles before names
> Date: Thu, 5 Dec 91 0:42:32 CST
> From: glieschelonestar.utsa.edu (Jules D. Gliesche)
> Subject: Re: 2.835 Names
> I don't remember too much Czech, but I can certain vouch for the fact that
> it is very common in German to put an article before someone's name. I don't
> believe the perscriptive grammarians have accepted it yet, but in speech it's
> very normal to speak of someone as "der Donald" or "die Ivana."
> Seems logical that other languages would do this as well....as to the best of
> my recollection Czech is one of these languages.
Articles before both Christian names and surnames, but of males only, are
common in most Flemish dialects. It is most definitely judged incorrect
Message 6: "The Donald"
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1991 09:18 EST
From: "Michel <mgrimaudlucy.wellesley.edu>
Subject: "The Donald"
Like other LINGUISTs I was surprised when I first met with "THE Donald" --
in my case in the Sunday magazine insert _Parade_.
However, I had assumed and, now that Czech is out of the way as an origin,
believe this is not unlikely -- that what we are dealing with is an odd
variation on the standard
--Bill Cosby = the Coz
--Fonzie (one of the main characters of "Happy Days" a few eons
ago) was = the Fonz (this is my earliest dating!)
I've heard this usage rather rarely in the last ten years, but two kinds of
usage seem dominant:
--nicknaming havens (small groups such as, say, an MIT frat)
I have been puzzled for some time about the origin of this nicknaming
device which seems most unusual for English.
Message 7: Re: 2.849 Names
Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1991 14:32 EST
Subject: Re: 2.849 Names
In reference to "the" preceding first names ("the Donald"), I'd like
to add that I've heard this construction for years from several chums
from college days who were entirely monolingual English speakers. I
had always thought it was an off-shoot of a baby talk form--"the mommy,
the daddy, the baby" etc. When used to address intimate adult friends,
it suggests something very distinctive and complimentary about your
personality, that you are a genre unto yourself. The speaker I know
who uses this the most grew up in rural southeastern Colorado but
was very middle class and traveled a good bit.
--Becky Burns Hoffman
Message 8: names
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 91 15:13:00
From: Kenesei Istvan <h1056kenella.hu>
I missed the beginning of the debate, and especially David Gil's
typology, but if this hasn't been noted, please add Hungarian to
the 'Sprachbund' of languages with article + name construction,
which includes Italian and German in this part of the world. (I
wonder if this construction may have emerged in what once was the
Austrian Empire, which included Italian, German, Czech and
Hungarian speaking territories, among others, with German as the
common medium of communication.)
As for current usage in Hungarian, though no systematic
analysis is available to my knowledge, it seems that it is strictly
confined to the spoken language and the article can be attached to
or given names of personal acquaintances or people 'talked about',
i.e. presupposed topics of conversations. Though friends who are
no longer alive can be referred to by the article + name sequence,
this is usually not allowed in the case of dead notabilities,
politicians, writers, etc.