Question of the Day

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Nyarlathotep
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Question of the Day

Post by Nyarlathotep »

Why do some place names get an arbitrary "The" in front of them but others don't. Like "The Bronx" or "The Congo" but not "The Brazil" or "The Maryland"?
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xouper
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by xouper »

I never really gave that question much thought until the Ukraine changed their name to just Ukraine.

See for example this story from 2014:
https://time.com/12597/the-ukraine-or-ukraine/

More generally (from 2009):
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2009/10/why-do-we-use-definite-articles-for-some-place-names-like-the-hague.html

I'm not quite satisfied that the second link fully answers the question, though. Seems to me there is still more to the story.

I get the impression, though, that the reason a place name has "the" in it (or not), is specific to each place, and that perhaps there is no general rule, as such.

I could be wrong, of course. That's about all I know at the moment.
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ceptimus
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by ceptimus »

At one time, it was The Sudan. People then started saying just Sudan. Now the country has split into North Sudan and South Sudan, so there's no longer any worries about the correct form to use.
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Nyarlathotep »

xouper wrote: Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:06 am I never really gave that question much thought until the Ukraine changed their name to just Ukraine.

See for example this story from 2014:
https://time.com/12597/the-ukraine-or-ukraine/

More generally (from 2009):
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2009/10/why-do-we-use-definite-articles-for-some-place-names-like-the-hague.html

I'm not quite satisfied that the second link fully answers the question, though. Seems to me there is still more to the story.

I get the impression, though, that the reason a place name has "the" in it (or not), is specific to each place, and that perhaps there is no general rule, as such.

I could be wrong, of course. That's about all I know at the moment.
The pattern makes sense, but it still sounds weird to me to call it just “Ukraine” rather than “The Ukraine”
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Hotarubi
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Hotarubi »

ceptimus wrote: Wed Jan 06, 2021 10:33 am At one time, it was The Sudan. People then started saying just Sudan. Now the country has split into North Sudan and South Sudan, so there's no longer any worries about the correct form to use.
The name Sudan derives from the Arabic expression bilād al-sūdān (“land of the blacks”).

So, "The Sudan" kinda made sense....type...thing.
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Witness
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Re: Question of the Day

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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Doctor X »

I think it is more important to distinguish between when it should be pronounced "thē" and when it should be pronounced "thē."

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Anaxagoras
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Anaxagoras »

The Bronx was apparently named after the Bronx river, and that in turn was named after the first European settler in the area. If you say "the Mississippi" it means the river, not the state. Same with "the Missouri".

I think it's mostly just a convention.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bronx ... and_naming
The name "Bronx" originated with Swedish-born Jonas Bronck, who established the first settlement in the area as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639.[9][10][11]
Use of definite article[edit]
The Bronx is referred to with the definite article as "The Bronx", both legally[28] and colloquially.[29] The County of Bronx does not place "The" immediately before "Bronx" in formal references, unlike the coextensive Borough of the Bronx, nor does the United States Postal Service in its database of Bronx addresses (the city and state mailing-address format is simply "Bronx, NY").[30] The region was apparently named after the Bronx River and first appeared in the "Annexed District of The Bronx" created in 1874 out of part of Westchester County. It was continued in the "Borough of The Bronx", which included a larger annexation from Westchester County in 1898. The use of the definite article is attributed to the style of referring to rivers.[31][32] A time-worn story explanation for the use of the definite article in the borough's name stems from the phrase "visiting the Broncks", referring to the settler's family.[33]
There really is no general rule to be applied to place names like this, just a particular historical happenstance, and then it becomes a convention.

Mark Zuckerberg originally called his website or company "The Facebook" until someone suggested that he should drop the "The" and just call it "Facebook".

Some languages like Japanese don't really even have a word like "the". Although there are words for "this" and "that".

Human languages are funny like that.
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Fid
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Fid »

Technically the proper name is "The Home Depot" but I don't think I've ever heard any one use the "The".
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Rob Lister
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by Rob Lister »

This is tough. I went to The Google but it didn't help.

Another ...
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Re: Question of the Day

Post by gnome »

That, I think is a US/UK thing. Like going to hospital, or going on holiday.
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