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.

Chuck Coker


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)