Sunday, May 01, 2022

The Need for The

Recent turmoil in Eastern Europe, specifically the Ukraine, has people talking about countries most of us don't normally mention.  An oddity I've noticed is that the definite article is often used, ie. THE Ukraine.  Some only say 'Ukraine', but many add the article.

The United States, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates are obvious.  Those nations are a conglomeration of regions or governments.  The Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the Sudan are pretty much the same, although they're smaller.

Using that argument, you'd think Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia would've been given articles, as well, when they existed.  I've seen the Czech Republic referred to as Czechia, so maybe the 'ia' suffix is akin to 'the' among eastern european languages.  If that were true, though, you'd expect the Ukraine to be 'Ukrainia'.  

The Philippines have it, but Japan doesn't, although both are island archipelagos.  Formerly Senegambia, you now have the nations of Senegal and the Gambia.  Adding 'The' to most nations feels like saying 'The' Ohio State University... unnatural and weird.  The Russia... The Germany... The France... The Spain... just odd.

Why this is, I don't know.  I'm not going to 'google' it.  There's probably an obscure linguistic reason that will make me regret it, anyway.