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
Why does "Bronx" have to be prefaced with "The?" Why not "A Bronx" or, most reasonably, just plain old "Bronx?"
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."
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....
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.
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.
I rant regularly when people abuse Latin binomials by adding an unnecessary article in front of them, like people who refer to "the acanthomyops latipes". As I said at the time:
While I happily refer to the Skidelskys, I would never dream of calling them the Edward Skidelsky and the Robert Skidelsky. How hard is it to use a Latin name as a name?
Now I have a new term with which to beat people over the head. Thanks to a very informative article by Geoffrey K. Pullum over at Language Log (Glenn Frey and the band with the anomalous name) I now know not only that the band was called Eagles, not The Eagles, and also that such a thing -- "which takes no the" -- is called a strong proper name.
P.s. The comments on the Language Log post reveal that many bands, some of which I've even heard of, apparently have strong proper names, Talking Heads being my favourite.