Sunday, April 02, 2006


The Word The

Molière, The Critique of the School for Wives, Scene 3 (tr. Donald M. Frame):
CLIMÈNE: That the gives rise to strange thoughts. That the is frantically scandalizing; and say what you may, you cannot possibly defend the insolence of that the.

ÉLISE: It's true, cousin, I am for Madame against that the. That the is insolent to the uttermost degree, and you are wrong to defend that the.
One of my pet linguistic peeves is the misuse of the word the, first by including it where it doesn't belong, and second by omitting it where it does belong.

"The Donald," as an appellation for Donald Trump, is an example of including the where it doesn't belong. To the phrase "the Donald," I say, "You're fired." And I recently heard, on two separate local television stations, "the Four" and "the Nine," where "Channel Four" and "Channel Nine" were meant. Yuck. I hope this is not the start of a trend.

An example of omitting the where it belongs is the nauseating phrase "We Are Church," instead of "We Are the Church" or "We Are a Church." There is actually a group that proudly calls itself by this hideous name.

There exists an adjective anarthrous, meaning "without an article." One could apply it to the fault of omitting the where it belongs. I don't know an adjective to describe the opposite fault, of including the where it doesn't belong, so I'll coin one -- hyperarthrous.

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