"the" before country name

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon May 12 12:26:38 UTC 2008

Speaking of place names and articles:

"The" before a California-county-name-initialism seems to be a mark of prestige: viz., "The O.C." (Did we discuss this phenomenon a few months ago, adducing analogs?)


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 12 May 2008 06:13:23 -0400
>From: David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
>From:    "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
>> ...The Netherlands and (formerly) the Ukraine are the only examples of country names with "the" that come to mind...
>(John had already discussed the US, of course.)
>Working from Wikipedia's list of countries
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries, the following seem to my
>intuition to require a preceding the (leaving aside formal names like
>"Principality of Andorra", which almost always require a the for me);
>those followed by an asterisk include a the in the Wikipedia list:
>The Bahamas*
>The Cayman Islands
>The Cook Islands
>The Czech Republic
>The Falkland Islands
>The Faroe Islands
>The Gambia*
>The Isle of Man
>The Netherlands
>The Northern Mariana Islands
>The Philippines
>The Ukraine
>The United Kingdom (also obligatory for the full name)
>The United States (also obligatory for the full name)
>The British Virgin Islands
>The US Virgin Islands
>As you can see, having a Adj+N-like stricture (Cook Islands, Czech
>Republic), makes a definite article quite likely--but that's not the
>only thing going on: The Bahamas, The Gambia, The Netherlands (though
>that one's marginal, since that's a transparent Adj+N compound), The
>Philippines, The Ukraine (sorry, there's no transparent English
>translation of borderness there).
>Note also that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines requires an internal the.
>Worth noting, though, that that structure doesn't require a the, since
>there's a plurality thing, too: *The Norfolk Island is right out. Also,
>note below that some X Islands names only optionally use a the for me.
>The following seem to my intuition to have an optional preceding the:
>(The) Central African Republic
>(The) Congo (either country by that informal name)
>(The) Ivory Coast (but no the for Côte d'Ivoire)
>(The) Marshall Islands
>(The) Pitcairn Islands
>(The) Senegal
>(The) Seychelles
>(The) Solomon Islands
>(The) Turks and Caicos Islands
>(The) United Arab Emirates (though The UAE is obligatory for me)
>(The) Vatican City
>(The) Western Sahara
>I suspect that the optional the in (The) Seychelles is triggered largely
>by the appearance of plurality, even though i'm not sure that it really
>is plural.
>There's also a minimal pair here, where according to my intuition
>Palestine refers most naturally to the territories being argued about so
>intensely right now, but The Palestine can only refer to the old British
>Mandate territory (though undeterminered Palestine can also refer to
>that for me, leading to potential ambiguity, but only a one-way ambiguity).
>And then, of course, there's *El* Salvador...
>David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
>     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
>     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
>     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list