👓 City names with articles | English Language & Usage Stack Exchange

Read City names with articles (English Language & Usage Stack Exchange)
Typically we don't use articles with city names, e.g. "Seattle" and not "the Seattle." I know at least one exception though which is The Hague. Are there any other city names which we use with the

👓 The “The” | Gothamist

Read The "The" by Doug Gordon (Gothamist)

Why does "Bronx" have to be prefaced with "The?" Why not "A Bronx" or, most reasonably, just plain old "Bronx?"

Thanks, Blaney

The Vatican. The Hague. The Netherlands. The O.C. The Bronx. Unless you are a cartoon character, you can probably name on one hand the number of locations worldwide that are prefaced with the definite article "the." How the Bronx found itself in such esteemed company as the Holy See and the only county big enough for Peter Gallagher's eyebrows is an interesting bit of New York City trivia.

According to The Encyclopedia of New York City, the borough's name can be traced back to Jonas Bronck, a Swedish sea captain from the Netherlands, who settled in the area in 1639 and "eventually built a farmstead at what became 132nd Street and Lincoln Avenue." (Interestingly enough, if the home was still standing today it would only rent for about 25 shillings per month, due to Colonial rent-control laws.)

Bronck's name - Bronck, Bronck's, Bronx...note the pattern - would be given to the river that flows through the middle of the borough. Like the Mississippi, the Thames, and the Nile, most rivers have the function word "the" linked to their names. While no source gives an official date on when the "the" truly took hold, a visit to The Straight Dope tells us when people started referring to the general area surrounding the river's east and west in a more official capacity:

In 1874 about 20 square miles of mainland Westchester county was annexed to New York City. This region was known thereafter as the Annexed District of the Bronx, in apparent reference to the Bronx River, then the district's eastern border. In 1898 the Annexed District became part of the Borough of the Bronx - presumably still referring to the river. After a while, however, people forgot about the river and began casually referring to the entire borough as "the Bronx."

Some other cocktail chatter about the Bronx: not only is it the the only new York City borough connected to the mainland United States but it is also the only one to have a river run right through it. Despite its gritty reputation, about 24% of its land area is parkland, more than any other borough. It's also one of our favorite worlds ending in "x," along with "Jimi Hendrix," "Redd Foxx," and "Xbox."

👓 Why do we use definite articles for some place names, like The Hague? | Slate

Read Why do we use definite articles for some place names, like The Hague? (Slate Magazine)
Former Bosnian leader and accused war criminal Radovan Karadzic did not appear for the start of his trial on Monday in the Dutch city of The Hague....

📑 There are only three places that have a ‘the’ in the front of their name: the Vatican, The Hague, and the Bronx.

Annotated Just Kids from the Bronx by Arlene Alda (justkidsfromthebronx.com)
“There are only three places that have a ‘the’ in the front of their name: the Vatican, The Hague, and the Bronx.”  
—Mary Higgins Clark

👓 Syntax under pressure | Language Log

Read Syntax under pressure by Geoffrey K. Pullum (Language Log)

According to the Doonesbury site's feature "Say What?" today, Lauren Caitlin Upton, the reigning Miss South Carolina, was recently asked on TV why so many Americans can't find their own country on a map, and her impromptu reply, dutifully transcribed by various sources (though not yet checked aganst the original recording by Language Log staff), was:

I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should... our education over here in the U.S should help the U.S or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.

Those who enjoy laughing at stereotypically pretty young women (yes, Miss Upton does appear to be blonde) for stereotypically lacking intelligence will get a few giggles out of this one. And they will probably not reflect on whether they themselves have ever sounded similarly stupid when speaking spontaneously under pressure and under lights, in response to an unexpected question under circumstances that made them feel they are expected to talk.

👓 Language Log is strong | Language Log

Read Language Log: Language Log is strong by Geoffrey K. Pullum (itre.cis.upenn.edu)
A small point, while I think of it, at the risk of seeming a tiny bit pedantic, concerning how to make reference to Language Log. You may have noticed, from other websites or our occasional direct quotations from them, that there are many people who write things like "I really enjoy the Language Log". To take a random example, this page from the website of the radio program Here and Now says The "Language Log" is an online hub where linguists trade thoughts on all aspects of language. And another site said (and we really are flattered and grateful): the website of record for die-hard language buffs is the Language Log, acknowledging in the following sentence: The Language Log, I admit, is not for the faint of heart (see it here). Many thanks for the praise; but for the non-faint of heart, it's "Language Log", not "the Language Log". If I may use the terminological distinction drawn in The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language in pp. 517ff, recently mentioned here), Language Log is a strong proper name, not a weak one.

🎧 Lecture 30 of The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter

Listened to Lecture 30: The Story of Human Language by John McWhorterJohn McWhorter from The Great Courses: Linguistics

Lecture 30: Language Starts Over—Signs of the New
Creoles are the only languages that lack or have very little of the grammatical traits that emerge over time. In this, creole grammars are the closest to what the grammar of the first language was probably like.

👓 Robert Lowth | Wikipedia

Read Robert Lowth (Wikipedia)
Robert Lowth FRS (/laʊð/; 27 November 1710 – 3 November 1787) was a Bishop of the Church of England, Oxford Professor of Poetry and the author of one of the most influential textbooks of English grammar.

An interesting character with an outsize influence on modern English grammar. Dave Harris is sure to appreciate this.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Lowth seems to have been the first modern Bible scholar to notice or draw attention to the poetic structure of the Psalms and much of the prophetic literature of the Old Testament.  

October 16, 2018 at 10:55AM

Lowth’s grammar is the source of many of the prescriptive shibboleths that are studied in schools,  

October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM

His most famous contribution to the study of grammar may have been his tentative suggestion that sentences ending with a preposition—such as “what did you ask for?”—are inappropriate in formal writing.  

October 16, 2018 at 10:56AM

🎧 Lectures 17-19 of The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter

Listened to Lectures 17-19: The Story of Human Language by John McWhorterJohn McWhorter from The Great Courses: Linguistics

Lecture 17: Dialects—The Standard as Token of the Past
When a dialect of a language is used widely in writing and literacy is high, the normal pace of change is artificially slowed, as people come to see "the language" as on the page and inviolable. This helps create diglossia.

Lecture 18: Dialects—Spoken Style, Written Style
We often see the written style of language as how it really "is" or "should be." But in fact, writing allows uses of language that are impossible when a language is only a spoken one.

Lecture 19: Dialects—The Fallacy of Blackboard Grammar
Understanding language change and how languages differ helps us see that what is often labeled "wrong" about people's speech is, in fact, a misanalysis.

Interesting to hear about the early “canonization” of English grammar by Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray.

📑 Code of Conduct

Annotated Code of Conduct for EDU522 by J. Gregory McVerryJ. Gregory McVerry (edu522.networkedlearningcollaborative.com)
Incessentaly correcting graamer  

This may be my favorite line of the entire code of conduct! I’m doing my best to resist….

👓 Why keeping The Economist’s style guide up to date is a battle | The Economist

Read Why keeping The Economist’s style guide up to date is a battle by Ann Wroe (The Economist)
The editor of our style guide on new rules, older folk and the plurality of data

🔖 [1803.09745] English verb regularization in books and tweets | arXiv

Bookmarked [1803.09745] English verb regularization in books and tweets by Tyler J. Gray, Andrew J. Reagan, Peter Sheridan Dodds, Christopher M. Danforth (arxiv.org)
The English language has evolved dramatically throughout its lifespan, to the extent that a modern speaker of Old English would be incomprehensible without translation. One concrete indicator of this process is the movement from irregular to regular (-ed) forms for the past tense of verbs. In this study we quantify the extent of verb regularization using two vastly disparate datasets: (1) Six years of published books scanned by Google (2003--2008), and (2) A decade of social media messages posted to Twitter (2008--2017). We find that the extent of verb regularization is greater on Twitter, taken as a whole, than in English Fiction books. Regularization is also greater for tweets geotagged in the United States relative to American English books, but the opposite is true for tweets geotagged in the United Kingdom relative to British English books. We also find interesting regional variations in regularization across counties in the United States. However, once differences in population are accounted for, we do not identify strong correlations with socio-demographic variables such as education or income. [.pdf]