Posted by: David Stewart | December 6, 2011

The missing article – an international mystery

Am I the only one to notice that the definite article seems to be missing in country names these days?

It used to be that certain countries always had "the" preceding the name:

  • The Congo
  • The Ukraine
  • The Bahamas

And a few more. But as I listen to news broadcasts and read the paper, it seems like common usage is to lost the "the".

So people refer to the country called "Congo" or "Ukraine". I suppose the official name of Congo is "Democratic Republic of the Congo" but what the heck man. Is this an example of Americans chopping out unnecessary speech to speed things up?

Mainland China’s official name is "The People’s Republic of China" in English, but in the Chinese language, at least in spoken Mandarin, there is no definite article that I am aware of like "the". And it’s uncommon for people

The most recent example of this is I heard a sound bite from Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State refer to "United States" rather than "the United States." Now I grant you, when I fill in paperwork and need to write down my nationality or country of residence, the most I write down is "USA", not "The USA".

In running, as in life, there are many ways to take short-cuts. Reduce words. Speed the speech. But I have found that the only way to truly accomplish things is sometimes just to put in the hard work, no shortcuts, and get the preparation work done.

So am I just a dinosaur to say that I miss the definite article?


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