LINGUIST List 3.939

Sun 29 Nov 1992

Disc: Articles and Names

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Patrick John Coppock, 3.932 Articles and Names
  2. no chive, Re: 3.932 Articles and Names
  3. Ian MacKay, articles and names
  4. , Place names, "The Island"
  5. Michael Kac, Where is The Midwest?
  6. "Dennis.Preston", 3.929 Articles and Names

Message 1: 3.932 Articles and Names

Date: Thu, 26 Nov 1992 09:32:56 3.932 Articles and Names
From: Patrick John Coppock <>
Subject: 3.932 Articles and Names

Apropos articles and place-names......

In Norway, lakes are generally referred to by use of the definite article,
i.e. by use of a suffix (-en, -a, -et, -ene (pl.)). For example Lake Femund is
 referred to as Femunden, Lake Mjoesa as Mjoesa. This seems to apply to both
 large lakes (like Femund) and even small lakes or tarns (e.g. Vintervannet,
 Syltjoenna, Damtjoenna).
The same is also the case for fjords (examples of this are Sognefjorden,
 Trondheimsfjorden) and valleys (Numedalen, Gudbrandsdalen). In the case of
 mountains, individual peaks are sometimes referred to without the definite
 article as in the case of Glitter
tind, but most often with the definite article (e.g. Syltoppen, Galdhoepiggen),
 and names of ranges or mountain plateaus follow this convention too (e.g.
 Dovrefjell, but also Jotunheimen (sing.) and Rondane (pl.)).

Concerning _the city_, this usage seems to have to do with _in-group_ marking,
 or at least som kind of territorial closeness principle. People from the whole
 of the Trondheim region will generally say *I am going to the city* (*Jeg skal
 til byen*) when th
ey intend to travel in to Trondheim, which is the largest city in the region,
 but would mostly use the name of the town or district in its indefinite form in
 the case of other towns or districts than Trondheim. For instance, if talking
 about the town of Ro
eros, one might say *I am going to Roeros tomorrow* in this way: *Jeg skal reise
 til Roeros i morgen*.

Another phenomenon in certain dialects in Norway is the use of the definite
article to refer to certain (well known? to both conversational pertners)
persons in an _affectionate_ or joking way e.g.: *Kjell'en er en grei kar* (lit.
 *(The) Kjell is a nice guy*). This only seems to work with a few names though,
 and is perhaps more of a kind of _rhyming slang_ variant. In my experience,
 this is a phenomenen
 mostly associated with the Bergen dialect.

pat coppock
dept of applied linguistics
university of trondheim avh
n-7055 dragvoll
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Message 2: Re: 3.932 Articles and Names

Date: 26 Nov 1992 10:50:39 -0400Re: 3.932 Articles and Names
From: no chive <>
Subject: Re: 3.932 Articles and Names

In response to Dwight Tuinstra, it *is* Handel's "Messiah," at least for
musicians. Handel scholars are adamant on this point.
Susan Fischer
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Message 3: articles and names

Date: Fri, 27 Nov 92 09:56:23 ESarticles and names
From: Ian MacKay <>
Subject: articles and names

Brian Joseph's recent posting mentions in passing that his
institution is properly called THE Ohio State University. This
usage is perceived as snobbish by many persons elsewhere in the
state (who have, by the way, considerable respect for the instituition
and its staff; indeed a bit of envy just might be involved). At any
rate, I was at the University of Cincinnati when it became a state
institution. A number of faculty at U. Cincinnati took to calling the
great institution in Columbus "AN Ohio State University". The name has
stuck in certain quarters.
 Lest anyone think that this posting is intended as a slight on Ohio
State (and because I can't think of any other excuse), I will relate a
mischievous variant on the name of my institution (though the definite
article is not involved)."University of Ottawa" is colloquially reduced to
"U of O" in speech. Persons associated with the other university in town,
Carleton U, delight in reading this abbreviation as "U of Zero".

Ian MacKay (IMACKAYacadvm1.uottawa.CA)
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Message 4: Place names, "The Island"

Date: 27 Nov 1992 11:20:06 -0600Place names, "The Island"
From: <>
Subject: Place names, "The Island"

A Canadian in Brian Joseph's story:
> "...Long Island? No, I'm from Prince Edward Island.
> What the hell other island is there?"

These easterners, I tell ya! Any British Columbian knows
that "The Island" is Vancouver Island. Interestingly, the
many little islands between "The Island" and "The
Mainland" (meaning Vancouver, for me) are called by the
first part of their names, without adding "Island". Thus,
Galliano Island and Salt Spring Island, for ex., are called
"Galliano" and "Salt Spring", even by people who live there.

Megan Crowhurst
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Message 5: Where is The Midwest?

Date: 27 Nov 1992 11:22:21 -0600Where is The Midwest?
From: Michael Kac <>
Subject: Where is The Midwest?

A LINGUIST correspondent writing from Ottawa refers to Ohio as part of the
American (i.e. U.S.) midwest. My experience suggests that this is a relative
term: as one who grew up in New York State, I thought of Ohio as in the
midwest until I moved to California, from whose vantage point Ohio is
definitely part of 'back east'. (But then I think a lot of Californians think of

Denver as 'back east' too.) And in Minnesota, where I now reside, Ohio does
not seem to be considered part of the midwest.

I'm interested in where the crucial reference points are, and here's a
working hypothesis. If you come from Pittsburgh or points east, the midwest
begins with Ohio. If you are from west of the Mississippi, the midwest ends
at the Illinois-Indiana border. But it would be interesting to hear from
people in different parts of the country about where, relative to their own
locations, the boundaries of the midwest are.

There are similar issues that arise in regard to where the west begins. Calvin
Trillin (who gets referred to occasionally on this net) once wrote a piece in
The New Yorker about the rivalry between St. Louis and Kansas City as to
which place gets to call itself the gateway to the west. The issue from
Trillin's point of view (he's from KC) is this: is St. Louis the westernmost
eastern city or the easternmost western city? This in turn gave rise to a
proposal as to how to operationalize the predicate 'eastern city'. As I re-
call he posited three conditions all of which had to be satisfied and whose
joint satisfaction qualified any city as eastern: first, no member of the city
council wears white patent leather shoes (and that eliminates Minneapolis
right there, you betcha!); second, the evening meal is called dinner (again,
Minneapolis is right out of there); and third, that there are at least three
places within the city limits where you can buy pastrami (don't know how
Minneapolis fares in this regard -- I don't like pastrami).

Anyone interested in joining the fray on these or related issues is welcome
to contact me directly. I'll summarize to the list if the results end up being

Michael Kac
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Message 6: 3.929 Articles and Names

Date: Sun, 29 Nov 92 12:22 EST
From: "Dennis.Preston" <>
Subject: 3.929 Articles and Names

I do not doubt the influence of many of the interesting hypotheses given
concerning English articles and place-names, but is there not lurking
somewhere another stress and/or vowel quality (or stress pattern) influence?
Compare The Argentine with Argentina
The Ukraine with *Ukrania
The Congo with *The Kenya
I suspect a part of the action may rest here (and may have something to do
with at least] the perceived morphological status of
the ending'). Dennis Preston
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