Date: Sun, 4 Dec 1994 08:58:25 -0800
From: "CAVEMAN -- San Bernardino, Calif. USA" cjcoker[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CSUPOMONA.EDU
Subject: Article Use w/ Freeway Names
Subj: ADS-L Digest - 2 Dec 1994 to 3 Dec 1994
Date: Sat, 3 Dec 1994 22:14:03 -0600
From: "James C. Stalker" stalker[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: "the" 101
An interesting question. A great many languages don't have articles. Do
we have evidence that articles are universal (so unmarked) and lack of
articles are non-universal (so marked)? The relevance here is that "the
496" (our local interstate bypass) is unmarked, but that "496" is marked.
496 is the more common designation here. I will not make strong claims
because I have not yet asked. I reckon I will.
Please excuse my ignorance here, but what exactly is being said here?
I don't quite understand this.
It's possible Mr. Stalker studies a different area of linguistics
than I do, so maybe that is the source of my confusion.
In my admittedly limited experience, most languages I have come across
(number of languages, NOT number of speakers of those languages) do NOT
use articles. Assuming all languages were equal, I would have to say
I believe articles to be unusual, and not having articles to be the norm.
In the 6,000 languages spoken around the world, I still have to examine
about 5,990 of them, so take my opinion for what it's worth.
Listening to speakers of English as an L2, I would say that the Romance
languages use articles, but others such as Russian, do not. Again,
just an over-generalization and opinion -- not knowledge.
Could article usage be tied to typologies such as SOV vs. SVO (e.g.
English) maybe? Any thoughts? I realize this is getting away from
American English dialects, but we have many non-native speakers of
English here in Southern California -- I tried an informal count of
the languages a few years back, and remember the number being over 100.
CJCoker[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CSUPomona.Edu
PS: Years ago, when I was a truck driver, we would refer to, for example,
Interstate 10, as I10 (pronounced eye-one-oh, as in, "I'm an eastbound on
eye-one-oh."), although now, as a commuter, I take "the 10" from San
Bernardino to Pomona each day.
PPS: I just remembered! This goes back a few threads, but those little
knobs attached to steering wheels were called "suicide knobs" by truck
drivers. They were very dangerous when driving in less-than-ideal
conditions (e.g., on ice, etc.). I would not recommend anybody putting
one on their steering wheel (professional opinion here).
There have been no dragons in my life, only small spiders and stepping in gum.
I could have coped with the dragons.
-- Anonymous (but wise)