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Thursday, August 24, 2006


Amending my diss. manuscript after the (?) proofreading done by an English-speaking colleague of mine, it's funny to see what being a speaker of a language that does not have articles (the, a) does to one's English. The large majority of the (?) corrections concern the article the. Such a lousy language, in need of all that small loose stuff when everything could be expressed with single words, even if longer because of inflection and all that.

From OED: (institutional subscription I guess)
B. Signification. I. Referring to an individual object (or objects).

* Marking an object as before mentioned or already known, or contextually particularized (e.g. ‘We keep a dog. We are all fond of the dog’).

1. The ordinary use.
2. Used before a word denoting time, as the time, day, hour, moment: the time (etc.) in question, or under consideration; the time (now or then) present. the while: see WHILE.
3. Before the name of a unique object or one so considered, or of which there is only one at a time
4. With a class-name, to indicate the individual example most familiar to one, or with which one is primarily or locally concerned
5. Formerly with names of branches of learning, arts, crafts, games, and pursuits. Now chiefly dial. Also generally with gerundial vbl. ns. (arch.).
And so on...

And it's not just once that I've written "his husband" and "her wife"; yet another annoying trait of English to distinguish between "he" and "she".

I have a hunch that these mistakes are familiar to ESL teachers in Korea.


And yet another individual peculiarity, almost all of my also words were in a wrong place in sentences.

Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang:

Comments to note ""the"" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous lankov> said on 24.8.06 : 

Anti, I am with you! I am also a victim of an article-less language. The difference between "a" and "the" keeps eluding me. When I see an article, I usually (but not always) can explain why it's here. But I cannot really do it myself! I wonder if the existence of an article in one's native language helps? What about German/Bulgarian/French speakers?

<Anonymous owen/kotaji> said on 24.8.06 : 

Hee hee. We designed it that way to confuse foreigners.

I've noticed that native speakers of Korean, Finnish and Russian do share this problem in common. Presumably the same can be said for almost every other non-European language in the world, since as far as I know most of them lack articles.

I believe that having articles in one's own language does help, although from my experience there are subtle differences to the way that articles are used in different Latinate and Germanic languages. I'm sure Muninn can tell us about the rather different system they have in Norwegian, which completely confuses me.

<Blogger Sewing> said on 25.8.06 : 

Well, for Koreans there's some compensation, as we English speakers trip up quite easily on the very basic distinction between 가/이 versus 는/은!

...And if Korean is agglutinative, I guess Finnish is hyperagglutinative, judging by that link....

<Blogger Iosue Andreas> said on 5.9.06 : 

I always tell my students that the article is the last thing they will master in English.

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