LINGUIST List 3.892

Thu 12 Nov 1992

Disc: Articles in Geographical Names

Editor for this issue: <>


  • "Don W.", Articles in geographical names
  • Luiz Arthur Pagani, Re: 3.838 Place-Names and Articles
  • Deborah Berkley, Re: 3.861 Negation,

    Message 1: Articles in geographical names

    Date: Fri, 06 Nov 1992 21:11:20 Articles in geographical names
    From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
    Subject: Articles in geographical names

    In connection with the very interesting discussion by...

    >Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy <> >Subject: Re: Place-Names and Articles > >A curious feature of all varieties of English (so far as I know) is >the discrepancy between river and sea names on the one hand (which >need the article) and mountain and lake names on the other (which >reject it).

    What is current English usage concerning "the" Sudan? Has it become simply "Sudan" in American while retaining the article in British? Are there similar discrepancies between U.S. and British usage? "The" Lebanon comes to mind, as well, where the definite article does not appear in the U.S. form of the name. Was the definite article more frequent in, say, the 18th and 19th centuries in the U.S.?

    And another very interesting discussion...

    >Date: Mon, 2 Nov 92 11:45:22 -0500 >Subject: seeking references on control language and inanimate objects >From: Sean Boisen <sboisenBBN.COM> > >I'm looking for references relevant to the topic of how people use or >might use language for controlling semi-intelligent real-world >objects. For example, imagine a smart kitchen with speech >understanding technology, so that I could have the ability to request

    I don't know whether this qualifies as an empirical study, but on Star Trek, the crew addresses the computer somewhat peremptorily, for example: "Computer! Analyze the usage of definite articles in English place-names from 1701 to 2350!" Whereupon it cranks out a report immediately, of course.. :-)

    However, the turbo-lift does not rate a name. The passengers simply say, "Deck 8" or "Halt" or "Resume." Presumably the turbo-lift knows when it's being addressed, or has only a limited vocabulary that the crew studiously avoids while engaged in their private elevator conversations.

    We may need input from TIMETRAVEL-L on this one...


    Don W. (DonWebbCSUS.EDU)

    Message 2: Re: 3.838 Place-Names and Articles

    Date: Fri, 06 Nov 92 17:23:01 BSRe: 3.838 Place-Names and Articles
    From: Luiz Arthur Pagani <ARTHURBRFUEL.bitnet>
    Subject: Re: 3.838 Place-Names and Articles

    I'm not quite sure if "el <city name>" in Spanish could be an Arabic influence. Also Portugal was influenced by Arabians but in Portuguese it is not regular to use article plus city names, althought it could be possible in some specific contexts, none of them (that I could remember) on toponimics.

    Message 3: Re: 3.861 Negation,

    Date: Tue, 10 Nov 92 8:48:26 CSTRe: 3.861 Negation,
    From: Deborah Berkley <>
    Subject: Re: 3.861 Negation,

    The discussion of the English place name meaning 'hill hill hill' reminded me of some name trivia from the Los Angeles area. One concerns 'The La Brea Tar Pits'. I'm told 'La Brea' means 'the tar' in Spanish; if so, this name is actually 'the the tar tar pits'. And when the Angels baseball team was 'The Los Angeles Angels,' it was literally called 'the the angels angels.'

    Deborah Milam Berkley