The law of conservation of "the"

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Sat Jan 23 22:23:06 UTC 2010

--On Friday, January 22, 2010 08:25 -0800 Arnold Zwicky
<zwicky at STANFORD.EDU> wrote:

> On Jan 22, 2010, at 7:15 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>> At 1/22/2010 07:27 AM, Lynne Murphy wrote:
>>> ... On 'the' in front of 'hospital' and some medical conditions:
>>> <
>>> >
>> From the above, the law of conservation of "the":
>> "So one's tempted to say that there's a the balance at work here: if
>> a 'the' goes missing in one dialect, it has to be replaced somewhere
>> else within that dialect."
> surely Lynne was writing with tongue in cheek.  it's an entertaining
> idea, but preposterous.

"One's tempted to" is my main cheek-tongue marker, but the sentiment that I
was trying to express was 'Americans/Brits reading this blog: please stop
writing me to ask why Brits/American "ALWAYS" add/omit definite articles!'


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
Arts B357
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society -

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