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Post by gambit » Mon May 30, 2005 8:41 pm

I was wondering if anyone knew the Latin word for the word the. After numerous searches I just cant seem to find it
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon May 30, 2005 9:15 pm

That's because there isn't one.
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Post by haro » Mon May 30, 2005 10:22 pm

Gambit, Erik is right. Simply put, Latin has no articles. If you wonder how those ole Romans could live without them - well, it seems they managed fairly well. Although they knew that many other languages had articles (expecially Greek, which, as you may know, sometimes was the Roman upper-crust lingo), they never felt a need for introducing such an oddity in Latin.
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Post by JANE DOErell » Tue May 31, 2005 1:52 pm

Upon retirement I took a part time job sorting books to be reshelved in a library. I often thought what a bother "The..." was and wondered if it were necessary. Apparently the [there we go again] people who wrote in Latin didn't need it. I'm glad I visited this post.
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Post by Bobinwales » Tue May 31, 2005 3:51 pm

As you probably know most pubs in the UK are THE Something or other, The Black Lion, The Jolly Blacksmith, The Joiners' Arms, The Coach and Horses etc. I once took over a job in which there were separate files for 85% of the pubs of a large city, every one filed under "T" for "The".
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue May 31, 2005 4:53 pm

What one has to swallow for a job one loves!

Bob, I assume you had to visit each of these establishments to conduct bottoms-up verification in accordance with your last orders -- in other words, you were inspecting the on-the-ground aleways?
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Post by Bobinwales » Wed Jun 01, 2005 7:44 am

Erik, you know me so well.
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Post by William Barclay » Thu Jun 02, 2005 3:04 am

'The'; is quite unnecessary, really. Without meaning to sound arrogant, I speak four languages that do not use the word ‘the’ at all, and had it not been for your post I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

In fact, if you think about it, the word ‘the’ is not only unnecessary, it also puts English at risk of sounding wordy and superfluous.

“The dog buried the bone in the hole under the tree behind the house.”
“Dog buried bone in hole under tree behind house.”
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jun 02, 2005 5:10 am

If it comes to that, Russian manages quite well without either 'the' or a present-tense form of the verb 'to be'; "the car is white" becomes simply "car white". Depending on the context, the possessive pronoun too is often dropped where it would be used in English. So "My parents are pleased to see the money on the table" becomes, in Russian, "Parents pleased to see money on table".

The fact that this is still quite comprehensible merely demonstrates how much redundancy there is in English (which is of course far from being alone in this respect).
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Post by Nicolas Le Thierry » Fri Jun 03, 2005 7:49 am

I find all the above very interesting and I'm curious to know where do definite articles come from. In French, Spanish, Italian, etc., which stem directly from Latin, you can't do without them. By the way, are you sure that Latin doesn't have a means to express the fact that an object is definite?
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Jun 03, 2005 8:31 am

It has the demontrative pronouns 'hic' for 'this' and 'ille' for 'that' which are (or were) used for emphasising an object or person.
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Post by dalehileman » Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:32 pm

I understand that English is loved by folks like us because it contains more words than any other language possibly beside Russian. Is this true

Forgive my abysmal ignorance, but I always thought "the" was a useful accoutrement. Consider, for instance, "Dogs have bones," a plain statement of fact. "The dogs have bones" refers to certain specific dogs but unspecified bones, while "Dogs have the bones" refers to particular bones; and so forth

"Car white," yes. But it doesn't work out as well with plurals: "Cars white" somehow leaves one unsatisfied. As for book titles, might it not save the researcher a lot of trouble if he could assume "Dogs" was a textbook of some sort while "The Dogs" is more likely to be fiction about a certain pack of the animals

How are these nuances handled in other tongues, eg, Russian
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Post by sandx » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:02 pm

In France (where I live) everything has a plaural. So, the green door or la porte vert becomes les portes vertes. Equally odd,to english speakers.
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Post by spiritus » Sun Jun 05, 2005 10:17 pm

Dale,

Erik wrote:
If it comes to that, Russian manages quite well without either 'the' or a present-tense form of the verb 'to be'.
I reside in Brooklyn, New York. In Brooklyn, the area known as Brighton Beach has the largest community of Russian speakers in the U.S.. A Russian born friend of mine whom lives there told me that
in Russian, in some rare circumstances, you can use "one" and "that" in contexts where other languages would use an indefinite and definite article. He also noted that this usage was becoming more frequent among Russian speakers in Brighton Beach.

I would note that like the revered Classical Latin and Russian; Swahili and Japenese do not have definite articles.

Erik,
In answer to gambit's and Nicholas's questions; you had the fish on your hook, but reeled in your line too fast. Speaking of lines, the etymology of "the" is not linear, but rather circular:
It (Latin) has the demonstrative pronouns 'hic' for 'this' and 'ille' for 'that' which are (or were) used for emphasizing an object or person.
In the etymologies of many inflected languages, such as early Latin, definite articles formerly were demonstrative pronouns or adjective.
Though "classical" Latin had no definite articles as such; a later form of Vulgar Latin (9th century) did have the demonstrative pronounille, meaning "that".
This development is believed to have occurred as speakers of late Latin gradually ceased usage of inflection, but instead began using word order to express nuances in meaning.

The and that are common developments from the same Old English system. Old English had a definite article se, in the masculine gender, seo, feminine, and þæt, neuter. These words functioned both as demonstrative pronouns and as grammatical articles.
These were all merged together in the Middle Eglish spoken from 1100 to 1450, into þe, the ancestor of the Modern English word "the".

Sandx,
sandx wrote:In France (where I live) everything has a plaural. So, the green door or la porte vert becomes les portes vertes. Equally odd,to english speakers.
As an English speaker, I don't find that odd. I'm for using anything necessary to get one's point across.
Grammatical gender in inflected languages govern the agreement between nouns and pronouns and adjectives; in some languages it is quite arbitrary but in Indo-European languages it is usually based on sex or animateness gender. In writing at least, I find this enriches word meanings.

The late Latin demonstrative pronoun ille in the Romance languages morphs into the definite article and grammatical gender for "the"; becoming in French le, la and les, Spanish el, and la, and Italian il, lo and la.

gambit,

It is arguably true that the late Latin ille, is "that" progenator of "the".
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Post by spiritus » Sun Jun 05, 2005 10:45 pm

William Barclay wrote:
'The'; is quite unnecessary, really. Without meaning to sound arrogant, I speak four languages that do not use the word ‘the’ at all, and had it not been for your post I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

In fact, if you think about it, the word ‘the’ is not only unnecessary, it also puts English at risk of sounding wordy and superfluous.

“The dog buried the bone in the hole under the tree behind the house.”
“Dog buried bone in hole under tree behind house.”
Bill,

With the sole intention of sounding "arrogant", I must tell you, I speak only one language, and as spoken by me, it is just barely recognizable as "American English". Like most Americans, I value, nay, revere; the usage of that definitive article, "the". Its absence or presence in writng and speech, is how our more fervent patriots indentify the "real" American and the American-wannabe immigrant.

Unlike your "innocent" arrogance, my sarcasm is conscious.

Now, without arrogance or sarcasm, I will admit that I have given a "second thought" to your posting. In respect to "nececessities", in language usage, this is often a matter of cultural dictates, rather then word order.

Culturally speaking, in the U.S., the "necessary" use of the the article in the English language is typically learned by native speakers as children before they are three years old. People who write or speak in English and who drop the grammatical article risk being seen as poor writers and speakers by native speakers.

"Dog, bone, tree, and house, buried in hole behind former site of house".

I prefer the "wordy and superflous" version. Thank you.
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