Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 10:11:09 -0800
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
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.
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).
gcohen[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]umr.edu