Friday, March 28, 2008

The definite article

He's the man. That takes the cake. Madonna is the queen of pop. Jesus is the Son of God.

Funny (strange) how we often overlook the powerfully defining three letter word- T-H-E. It just doesn't have the same effect when you say he's a man, or Jesus is a son of God.

What's even funnier (ha ha) is when the is used in conjunction with something not normally defined in such finite terms. And somehow this keeps popping up in conversations I'm having with people, and it doesn't get any less-funny. But what is it about the that makes going to Walmart, versus The Walmart so much more comical? George W. was once quoted saying he used The Google, and my friend Anne Todd in college used to talk about the time when she had The Palsy (Bells Palsy, that weird disease where the whole side of your face goes limp for months at a time!)... somehow using The in front of the ailment took some of the serious edge off her prior suffering.

Last week I had a scare where we thought I might have gestational diabetes for the rest of my pregnancy, and I was in stitches in the hospital lab when mom mentioned that one of her friends had The Diabetes when she was preggers.

If someone can explain just why this is so funny, please let me know. Or if you have other real life examples please share! Maybe I am just simple minded, but until then, I'll just go about my day writing The Blog.


Mary Anna said...

I too am a fan of "The" article. I find myself often using "The" article when referring to "The" Cracker Barrel.

Sarah said...

I love it!!

I think the humor factor has something to do with the irony of making a very commonplace object out to be unique. It sounds silly to those who know that Cracker Barrel or a case of diabetes are not at all one of a kind. "The" instead of "a" is the ultimate understatement and it is extremely funny to me!!

The Palsy cracks me up! Now I'm on the hunt for this to happen again...will report back.

Anonymous said...

i think you should have also mentioned that mom says alot of things that are not even real words or expressions such as "joggle" and "jackbox"

Amanda Bradley said...

Yes, well my mind doesn't work as fast as my mouth so words just pop out sometimes. And having "the" diabetes or "the" palsy is pretty funny, isn't it?

MamaB said...

The last comment was mine, Mama B's, and not Amanda B's--another example of my mind working faster than my eyes!!!

Mark Kelly Hall said...

My theory is that adding the "the" makes it sound like the speaker has heard of whatever comes after it but hasn't talked about it much with other people, at least not enough to have a handle on the terminology (whether to use the article or not), and has mostly secondhand knowledge of the subject, so the implication is that he doesn't really understand it very well (or at least not as well as he thinks). It's funny because, let's face it, other people's ignorance is funny, especially when it's obvious they're trying to appear smarter than they actually are. Fortunately I never have this problem.

-Beth- said...

Ok, I found my self saying this last night and had to tell you. Rachel was talking about the girls coming to see me & baby on friday and jokingly said she expected dinner when they got here and I, in my most red-neck/ghetto voice said, "well you can just stop at "THE Dairy Queen and get you come then!" As soon as it came out I thought of you!! :)