Friends of Semantic Compositions

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February 09, 2004


language hat

OK, I accept your evidence and agree people do seem to write it. I'm glad you agree it sounds so bad it's unlikely anyone would say it. I'm not sure how to analyze this marginal linguistic phenomenon; I personally wish The New Republic would sell off the "The" and eliminate the whole problem.


My university dormmate loved the The The and frequently referred to them that way. Because neither The in the name is performing any semantic purpose, it's just a silly name, she was, and I am perfectly comfortable putting a the in front to act as an article. I find it believable that someone who speaks about The New Republic or The Gap frequently enough could find the The becoming part of the name, and thus needing another article.

I think you should extend your search to other languages that have articles.

Bernard Glassman

What about the following:

Editor: "Mary, I'm not sure you really need the the in the phrase 'the The New Republic.'"

I realize that in print it would have quotes around it, but it's spoken all the time. At least among those of us who are obsessive proofers of others' work.

Or "The 'The' The The uses in its name (the 'The' that's the first 'The' The The uses, that is, is absolutely necessary to the The The image."

BG (It's not so much the the, it's that that that I find unnecessary.)

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