"Silicon" (geog.)

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Jul 13 15:08:48 UTC 2001

I think it's the "headedness" that arnold found funny. "The States"
sounds OK to me (head-preservation). "The Dominican" sounds funny.
Similarly, "The Valley" sounds OK (and exists in many places where
the pragmatics makes it clear what valley we're talking about. "(The)
Silicon" sounds funnny to me too, but the rule ("ALWAYS THOSE DAMN
RULES!) must be something like:

"Preserve the head in compound ellipses unless the pragmatics demands

Apparently, "The Valley" is not predictable enough (especially
perhaps since there are other California "Valleys" alrady known as
"The Valley"), so the nonhead constituent prevails.


PS: Note how this helps sort out what the "head" really is in Lake
Michigan versus Mono Lake (both of which could be "The Lake").

>This sort of reduction of compound geographical names strikes me
>as not too unusual.  Offhand, "The Dominican" for "The Dominican
>Republic" (sometimes heard on baseball broadcasts) and "The
>States" for "The United States" spring to mind.
>Joanne Despres

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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