Sunday, January 19, 2014

Overuse of "the"

by Edd Doerr

Despite its incomparably rich vocabulary and other virtues, our English tongue is rather a mess phonetically. Not long ago I wrote a short story that read perfectly well  phonetically though every single word in it was misspelled. Example: "Thuh Kween uv Gnawrweigh phell  doun thuh stares."

Especially annoying is to see the plural nouns "media" and "data" used as singulars in so much writing today. And the increasing substitution of the archaic "unbeknownst" for "unknown" or the use of the inaccurate and antique "dashboard" for the "instrument panel" of a car.

Then there is the overuse of the definite article "the", as in "The psychologist Joe Blow said . . . ",  implying that Joe is the only psychologist, instead of the more accurate and less grating "Psychologist Joe Blow said . . ." This overuse of "the" is found in even the best newspapers and magazines. How many trees have been wasted producing the paper for excessive use of the unnecessary "the"?


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