The Broncks', the borough of my childhood, fades away

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Dec 6 01:40:28 UTC 2007

Aren't the vast majority of these "the X" shorthands for "the X
<something>", as in "the Amazon River" or "the Amazon basin"?  This
would apply also to "the Argentine" as "the [former] Argentine colony
[of Spain]".


At 12/5/2007 02:03 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:
>The place name examples here are all countries. I still think of "the
>Amazon" as referring to the river and its enormous drainage area, and I
>can't imagine it anarthrous. Other rivers are typically often "the X", but I
>can't offhand think of any others whose names are used for their entire
>basins as well.
>m a m
>On Dec 4, 2007 6:23 AM, Geoff Nathan <geoffnathan at> wrote:
> > Doug Harris wrote:
> > > Among other places long provided the 'the' article, at least in
> > > British English, include _The Lebanon_, a phrasing that always
> > > annoyed me when I lived in England and heard newscasters say it,
> > > on my assumption that the _The Lebanon_ was actually meant to
> > > mean "the territory of Lebanon". Even if that were the case, I
> > > still wonder what the Brits did, and perhaps still do, mean in
> > > referring to _The Zambia_.
> > > (the other) doug
> > >
> > >
> > > I wonder whether the loss of formerly traditional "the" from some
> > > other place names, such as Ukraine and Yukon (the latter of which
> > > still gets the article with a certain frequency), might have had any
> > > subtle influence on this -- perhaps a little nagging idea that "the"
> > > for a place name is improper. I wouldn't stand behind this
> > > speculation without lots of further evidence, but such prescriptive
> > > extensions from abductions aren't unknown, ISTM.
> > I have a dim memory of a discussion about this on the ADS list earlier.
> > I don't have time this morning to go through the archives, but maybe
> > someone else can help.
> > I'm pretty sure that the arthrous description of place-names became
> > un-PC about ten to fifteen years ago with the prescriptivist explanation
> > that the use of the article conjured up the connotation of Colonialism.
> > I do remember Maggie Thatcher referring to 'The Argentine' during the
> > Falklands war.
> >
> > Geoff
> >
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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