"the" (2)

Johanna Rubba jrubba at calpoly.edu
Mon Aug 30 19:22:38 UTC 2004

I don't see "the 405" as placement of an article before a proper name. I
do believe it is a short form of "the 405 freeway." If you've listened
to enough LA radio traffic reports, you hear alternation between the
shorter and longer usage. And perhaps people more expert on SoCal usage
can chime in as to whether So. Californians use "the" in front of other
proper names. I don't have any awareness of such. I do not hear the
usages Steve Long reports, e.g. "the Santa Claus" or "the Popeye".

As to "the Christ", I'm sure Gibson was using it in the traditional
theological sense, this being a very fundamentalist Catholic movie. But
somehow I doubt that this film is responsible for the spread of such
usages. It's too recent. "The Donald" has been in common use since long
before Gibson's film appeared. My intuition tells me that "the" is
inserted in such cases as a campy acknowledgment of his (supposed?)
uniqueness and fame, as we say "the sun" and "the moon", because we can
be sure everyone knows which sun or moon (or Donald) we are talking about.

Re British "the Burger King", this has a familiar ring to me. But my
memories of British English are too foggy to verify or come up with
other examples. Surely there are some Brits out there who subscribe to
Funknet ... ?

Johanna Rubba   Associate Professor, Linguistics
English Department, California Polytechnic State University
One Grand Avenue  • San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Tel. (805)-756-2184  •  Fax: (805)-756-6374 • Dept. Phone.  756-2596
• E-mail: jrubba at calpoly.edu • 	Home page:

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