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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 6 01:52:17 UTC 2007

At 8:40 PM -0500 12/5/07, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>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]".

Shades of the Freeway Thread ("the 5", "the 401", etc.)


>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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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