What does article omission say about a person?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Neugierig, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. Neugierig Registered Member

    I know someone who tends to omit articles in speech a lot.

    What does this say about a person if they are always omitting articles?
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  3. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    It shows that YOU don't ask them to post so it is YOUR fault in not asking them to provide the information that you want them to, not them.
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  5. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Does the person have another language as their main one?
    Perhaps that language doesn't use articles, so they don't naturally include them.
    Is the person Chinese?

    See here for reference to Chinese speakers:
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Articles are the exception, rather than the rule, in the world's languages. Japanese doesn't use them either, nor do Finnish, Turkish, Indonesian and a host of African and Native American languages.

    They are common in the Indo-European and Semitic languages, but not universal. (Hindi, Albanian and most of the Slavic languages do not use them.) Since these two families are spoken by people who have been neighbors for thousands of years, it's quite possible that one borrowed the concept from the other, an instance of the sprachbund phenomenon. But they are much less common in other language families.

    In fact, the ancient Indo-European languages did not have articles, strongly suggesting that Proto-Indo-European did not. So it may be something that arose to fill a need as civilizations advanced from the Paleolithic Era through the Neolithic, the rise of civilizations, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

    Greek was the first Western Indo-European language to develop the article (in the Iron Age), and it has only a definite article, no indefinite. This is similar to Hebrew and Arabic, members of the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic family.

    In the Germanic languages, the definite article evolved from correlative pronouns like "that." In the Romance languages, they came from the third-person pronouns, "he/she/it/they." There appears to be no "standard" evolution of definite articles. The indefinite article, on the other hand, seems to always develop from the number "one": ein, eine in German, un, una in Spanish. This is just an educated guess since I know nothing about indefinite articles in other language families.

    English-language newspaper headlines routinely omit articles, and we have no trouble at all understanding them. I've often suggested that they are just "noise words" that contribute nothing to the meaning of a sentence. Yet since our ancestors went to a lot of trouble to invent them, this cannot have always been true.

    I'm sure Neugierig finds his friend's article-free English easy enough to understand, merely odd.
  8. mathman Valued Senior Member

    One thing I have noticed is the difference between U.K. and U.S. speech. U.K. speakers "go to hospital", while U.S. speakers go to the (or a) hospital".
  9. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    The etymology of the indefinite article, as in "A cow" comes from the Old English word for "one", "an".
    That at least makes some sense.
    The etymology of the definite article, as in "The cow" comes from the same root as the word that, and means this, that, and nothing at all.
    What does "the" mean in "the more the merrier"?
    No wonder English learners have trouble with it.
    Why should you suddenly stick a word in a sentence that doesn't mean anything?
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    German has special words for that: je and des--whose origins are a mystery to me.

    So you're suggesting that the phrase will be easier to understand if we just shorten it to "More merrier."
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    There are other examples of this. We say "I go to the university," whereas they say, "to university." Nonetheless we both say, "I go to school."

    Do they go to "the opera" or just "opera?"

    I remember the Monty Python movie (surely "The Life of Brian"), in which the little kid was gleefully asking, "Can we go to stoning? Can we go to stoning?"

    Nonetheless, although American English and British English are still regarded by linguists as two distinct dialects, they have been drawing closer together under the influence of trans-Atlantic electronic technology.
  12. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It's shortened from "the more (e.g. people there will be present at the party), the merrier (it will be)." "The sooner the better." etc.

    Not sure why. Maybe those who overthink things.

    If one means something, then one can usually also say it, given enough language proficiency.

    There is indeed redundancy in language. But this doesn't mean that the seemingly redundant elements can be just left out. It's a bit like if you want to carry five gallons of water in a bucket, you need a bucket that holds a bit more than five gallons. That bit more is on principle redundant, but it is still needed if you are not to spill the water while carrying it.
  13. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    That is interesting.
    I wonder why we have dropped the article for that word.
    "Go to University" is the same.
    Also "Spend time in Prison"
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    American usage is the same in this instance.

    Go to jail/prison, spend a year in jail/prison. No "the."

    We both say "at home," rather than "at the home." That sounds like you've been sent to a sanitarium.
  15. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    So far we have "go home", "go to prison", "go to university" etc. Or you can substitute "At" for "Go to"
    In all of these the noun is a place.
    Can you think of a sentence which drops the article where the noun is not a place?

    I can think of a set of examples not in normal speech.
    Newspaper headlines, eg "Man bites Dog"
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  16. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Not easier to understand, but it wouldn't lose any of its meaning.
    Chinese people would be quite happy with it in Mandarin.
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Merry - merrier - more merrier ...?
  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Loses indication of "more" and "merrier" being treated as if nouns -- or rather, how they are left hanging as such due to the missing / hidden words which they would otherwise be adjectives for. More [participants] produces merrier [occasion].
  19. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Language translators seem to have a hard job with Korean.
    The Koreans have a similar saying to "The More the merrier". Their saying is "Even the More Good."
    This is a story about it.

    First, translated with google translate.
    Even the more good.
    One (汉) Country heightened breast (Liu邦) as the unification of the reigning masters of gongsin chowang (楚王) Hanshin regarded as dangerous.
    Seize him, and then I write the plot and perineum (淮阴候) and reigned relegated to Chang'an (长安) was able to escape.
    One day, one (汉) Gozo (高祖) the ability of the Hanshin and several generals talking about the end of the Great Hanshin nanudeon tourist asked.
    "Lesson, only a few general sense that the military leadership is to believe that?"
    "Your Majesty ahroeopgi hwanggong haohna you'd think that one can preside over 10 manjjeum one."
    "Then thou?"
    "Yes, God (臣) a 'more the merrier (多多益善)' is followed."
    "More the merrier? Hathathat ......."
    Asked smiling after a bout of high tide.
    "What thou merrier sense of why longevity of only 10 million lesson, sure that I and the prisoner?"
    Hanshin thus replied.
    "Haohna Your Majesty, it is followed by a separate issue. Majesty's soldiers come no longevity longevity (将帅)'s longevity (将帅) followed Moulineaux. Majesty of this god is followed by all of the reasons that a prisoner."

    see https://sites.google.com/site/matthewpluskoreanequalsfun/sayings-proverbs-sogdam

    I get the feeling that google translate doesn't do Korean very well.
    Let's try Bing translator.

    As more and more.
    Han (han) Kingdom of great tit (劉 bang) is famous as a unification of the reigning king of retainers-Cho (chu wang) Hanshin dangerous beings.
    So I wrote a simple ploy after him four times well after (huai 陰 hou), relegation and the capital Chang'an (chang an) from leaving.
    One day, heightening a (han) (gao zu) is one of the many gods and generals, talk about their skills quite well documented at the end of the great Hanshin-so asked.
    "And several of the jailed military chief captain can do you think?"
    "Come, saying Hwang by 10 million tonnes by the time he was going o my sire can be thought to be the one."
    "Then thyself?"
    "Yes, (chen) is ' Dada-IK line (duo duo yi shan) '."
    "Dada-IK line? Hot hot hot ....... "
    Based on the great one laughed and I asked.
    "Iran is line thou, why only 100,000 of the prison and was a prisoner of?"
    Hanshin is thus answered.
    "O my Sire, it is a separate issue. His Majesty at the soldier's longevity is no pandemonium (jiang 帥) longevity (jiang 帥) in this city. This is why God is all of the prisoners of her Majesty. "
    The more familiar duo yi shan to land. "might be better, more will do well,"..
    [Synonym] is a large plate (yi duo duo 辦): the greater the better.

    Bing does slightly better I think, but I still can't understand the story.
    Which do you think gives the best translation?

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