Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 10:11:09 -0800


Subject: Re: "The Donald"

Czech has no definite article. Hence, e.g., "the book", "a book" and

"book" are all simply (at least in the nominative) "kniha". It is common

for Czechs speaking English to display uncertainty about when to use which

article, or none. Sometimes the result is to omit the article where

English requires it, and sometimes it is to use an article where English

uses none. (It's a phenomenon similar to the hypercorrect use of

progressive forms in English by many continental Europeans.)

E.g.: when I first visited my future in-laws in Prague, bringing as a gift

my father's book "Deadline", my future father-in-law (who spoke English)

carefully referred to it as "The Deadline".

I don't think there's a need to resort to German to explain Ivana Trump's

usage, whether she happens to know German or not.

Peter McGraw

On Sun, 7 Dec 1997, Gerald Cohen wrote:

About six months ago this website contained some messages about Ivana

Trump's reference to her husband as "The Donald," a reference that produced

instant hilarity among journalists and others. But I don't remember an

answer given to the question as to why she said this.

I have a hypothesis. Ivana is a native of Czechoslovakia, and I assume

(but do not know) that as an educated European she also knows German. In

German the presence of a definite article before a proper name is optional.

So a boy or man named Hans can be referred to simply as "Hans" or

optionally as "der Hans." Similarly Erika can be "Erika" or "die Erika."

And Donald can be "Donald" or "der Donald."

So Ivana might have simply translated "der Donald" into English as "the

Donald." Can anyone confirm whether Ivana knows German? Is there any

other explanation? I doubt she intentionally said "the Donald" as a way

of conveying a heroic stature to him (as "The Mick" for the great Yankee

slugger Mickey Mantle).

--Gerald Cohen