LINGUIST List 3.932

Wed 25 Nov 1992

Disc: Articles and Names

Editor for this issue: <>


  • , Re: 3.929 Articles and Names
  • Brian D Joseph, Posting for LINGUIST
  • Bill Bennett, Re: [3.929 Articles and Names]
  • , Articles and Names
  • "Ellen F. Prince", Re: 3.929 Articles and Names
  • H. Stephen Straight, Articles in Names: A Minimal Pair
  • Mark Hansell/ Mai Hansheng, "The City"
  • Hartmut Haberland, Re: 3.929 Articles and Names
  • dwight tuinstra, Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Message 1: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1992 10:21 CSTRe: 3.929 Articles and Names
    Subject: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Michael Kac writes:

    >In outstate Minnesota the Twin Cities metropolitan area is commonly >referred to as The Cities. writes:

    >It's common for every big city to be called "The City" by people who >live nearby. In New York, "The City" tends to mean Manhattan, even >for people who live in the other boroughs.

    My spouse, who grew up in Rochester, NY, still refers to New York City as "The City." But when she says "The Cities" (plural) she means the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area (we live about 75 miles from the Twin Cities). In central Minnesota "The U" refers to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

    In South Africa, where I used to live, the southeastern coastal city of Port Elizabeth is commonly referred to in Afrikaans as "Die Baai," however I have never heard anyone use its English equivalent, "The Bay." I understand the Xhosa name for Port Elizabeth is "iBayhi" (?sp), and that Johannesburg is often referred to as "iGoli" (?the gold).

    Aubrey Immelman Department of Psychology Internet: Saint John's University Phone: (612) 363-3198(w) or 654-6007(h) Collegeville, MN 56321 Fax: (612) 363-3202

    Message 2: Posting for LINGUIST

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 13:29:42 ESPosting for LINGUIST
    From: Brian D Joseph <>
    Subject: Posting for LINGUIST

    To follow up on the discussion in 3.918ff. on elliptical place names with a definite article and especially William Dowling's observation concerning "in-group" status associated with the ellipsis, let me offer an anecdote my father loved to tell. A New Yorker, he went to college at McGill in Montreal, and upon arriving was waiting in a line when he overheard someone near him say that he was from "the Island"; my father said to him "Oh, you're from Long Island? I'm from New York" and the other guy responded "Long Island? No, I'm from Prince Edward Island. What the hell other island is there?"

    Regarding the etymology of Istanbul from Greek eis ten poli, I agree that that is the accepted etymology and in some ways the obvious one, there being parallels for place names elsewhere incorporating the preposition, but I should point out that it is not uniformly accepted by all scholars of toponyms and onomastics. I recall an article by Demetrius Georgacas (though I cannot for the life of me recover the source), who knew about as much about Modern Greek place names as anyone in the world, disputing this "obvious" etymology for Istanbul, at least in the way it is usually presented (for instance, treating the name Istanbul as deriving from a reduction of the full name Constantinople (in Greek pronunciation, roughly konstandinu'poli(s)), though it involves some perhaps gratuitous assumptions about the proceses of reduction, gives a source for the -a- vocalism in Istanbul). If I can track down the Georgacas reference, I will post it.

    --Brian Joseph (Ohio State University, or, as it is officially known around here, The Ohio State University, another can of worms that many LINGUIST readers are familiar with from their own institutions).

    Message 3: Re: [3.929 Articles and Names]

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 22:54:48 GMRe: [3.929 Articles and Names]
    From: Bill Bennett <>
    Subject: Re: [3.929 Articles and Names]

    I haven't been paying special attention to the discussion. As an interested bystander, could I point out the familiar/pejorative use of article with name in French, e.g. la Marie, le Jean, le pe\re Goriot? And has anyone commented on the North American "the John"? Regards Bill Bennett

    Message 4: Articles and Names

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 11:41:38 ESArticles and Names
    From: <>
    Subject: Articles and Names

    Yet another bean for the pot...

    Sunday morning I encountered the following phrase on NPR: "...warships entering the territorial waters of the former Yugoslavia..."

    The crypto-perfective adjective "former" obviously seemed to call for an article to form a definite NP. This is probably akin to the phenomenon in "The Lowlands", "The Fenlands", and "The Netherlands". More generally, it seems to apply to any place name with more than one word (perceived to be) in it. Hence "The Yucatan (Peninsula)", "The Yukon (Territory)", etc.

    Is there a term referring to the gradual withering of such head nouns? They seem to decay into traces, leaving behind only the article that once introduced the full phrase. How about Cheshire nouns?

    -John Lawler University of Michigan

    Message 5: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 13:21:41 ESRe: 3.929 Articles and Names
    From: "Ellen F. Prince" <>
    Subject: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    >From: frnk301!frnk405!willuunet.UU.NET (William Dowling) >Subject: Articles in place names, highway names > >Re The 405 (etc.): The definite article can serve as an in-group marker (this >must be a consequence of something Grice said.) If in fact there is more >than one city we might be talking about, and I say "the city," you've got to >be in my group to know what I'm talking about. Someone commented that the >definite article in this context sounded "trendy." Cf. rowers at Oxford >referring to "the race", etc.

    as one who grew up in brooklyn, where _the city_ was used to denote manhattan, i wonder exactly *who* the term was supposed to be an in-group marker *for*. perhaps for some anthropologist/linguist observing our quaint ways, but certainly not for us, where there was no 'out-group' to distinguish ourselves from. of course, there was no other possible city to be referring to in our domain of discourse (newark?!?) and it was no more a 'marker' than, say, _the Statue of Liberty_ or _the Lower East Side_ or _the zoo_. just because some item isn't transparently clear to an outside observer doesn't mean that the insider's purpose in using that item is to distinguish insiders from outsiders.

    a related term, but one lacking an article, is _downtown_. for brooklynites, _downtown_ tout court is manhattan and _downtown brooklyn_ is an area of brooklyn. once in manhattan, one distinguishes _downtown_, _midtown_, and _uptown_ as areas of that borough, but, from the point of view of brooklyn, all of manhattan is _downtown_. as a small child, i was very perplexed that i had to take the _uptown_ subway to go _downtown_ or to _downtown brooklyn_ (since both were in fact north of my neighborhood) and the _downtown_ subway to come back home, but then i learned, as a good little new yorker, that the point of reference was manhattan, not brooklyn, and that what's relevant with subways is the direction, not destination. life is complicated.

    Message 6: Articles in Names: A Minimal Pair

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 16:32:31 EDArticles in Names: A Minimal Pair
    From: H. Stephen Straight <SSTRAIGHBINGVAXA.bitnet>
    Subject: Articles in Names: A Minimal Pair

    "Yucatan" = the state of Yucatan, Mexico "The Yucatan" = the peninsula of Yucatan (comprising the states of Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo, plus Belize and parts of Guatemala and Chiapas

    However, people using the latter term, an abbreviation of "The Yucatan Peninsula", will occasionally be chastised for doing so. The complaint has never been articulated clearly to me by any of the chastisers, but I gather (from previous poostings on this topic here) that it is a mixture of colonialist (The Philippines) and peripheralist (The Ukraine) connotations that offends. There's also, of course, "The Outback" and "The Yukon" and "The Everglades" to convey a mysteriouus, uncharted quality to the construction.

    H. Stephen Straight, Binghamton University <sstraighbingvaxa> or <> 607-777-2824 FAX: 607-777-2477

    Message 7: "The City"

    Date: 24 Nov 1992 21:32:32 -0500"The City"
    From: Mark Hansell/ Mai Hansheng <>
    Subject: "The City"

    Here in Minnesota, of course, it's always "the cities".

    Message 8: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 20:43:53 MERe: 3.929 Articles and Names
    From: Hartmut Haberland <>
    Subject: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    I'm afraid that the story about Istambul having been derived from 'is tim boli' is a hoax, although I have seen the story many places. The most obvious problem with it is explanation of the 'a' in Istambul (where the Greek phrase has an 'i'). It doesn't help to invoke Greek dialects (like Dorian) that had an a in the article, since they were not spoken in the relvant areas and certainly not at the relevant time. I don't have the details here (but can try to retrace them if somebody is interested), but I saw another etymology which claims to get the Turkish-internal facts right as well, and which derived Istambul from Konstandinupoli > Stanpuli > Stambuli > I + stambul (prothetic) which seems to make more sense. (Konstandinuoli is the Modern Greek pronunciation of Constantinople.) Of course, Istambul or Constantinople is still called 'i Poli', the city, by Greeks today. I also like the minimal pair politiko/s 'civil, political' with stress on the ultimate, vs. poli/tikos 'of the City, like in Constantinople' (often found on Greek tavern menus; penultimate stress).

    Message 9: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Date: Tue, 24 Nov 92 12:43 EDT
    From: dwight tuinstra <TUINSTDWsnypotva.bitnet>
    Subject: Re: 3.929 Articles and Names

    Ever listen to Handel's "Messiah"? No, no one has. It's Handel's "The Messiah".

    Also, re redundant place names: in the Adirondack Park, one can find highway signs reading "Lake Placid Lake". I seem to recall another saying "Lake Saranac Lake". I tried asking some residents about local usage, but what I got was an explanation about the geography -- in each case, the lake in question is outside the village. The lake(s) in the village have other names. I doubt if locals use the redundant names, but I wonder about the many tourists -- especially those not familiar with English.

    --dwight tuinstra