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Some curious uses of "the"

Posted by Pdianek on January 14, 2004

In Reply to: Some curious uses of "the" posted by Fred on January 14, 2004

: : : Why there are "the"s here?
: : : 1.Dolly the sheep
: : : 2.Alexander the Great
: : : Do you have other examples of this kind?

: : : And
: : : 3.In "Rain Music", there is a sentence saying:
: : : "His soft, black curls rest against the white of the pillow..."
: : : "the white of the pillow?" Why not use "the white pillow"?

: : : thanks!

: : I am not sure how to answer this. In the first example, the adjective is part of the name. Alexander THE Great sounds better than Great Alexander. Plus "the" means "the Alexander who is great as opposed to the other Alexanders." Like Alexander the Not-So-Great.

: : "White of the pillow" just sounds prettier, more poetic than "white pillow."

: : Anyone else got any insight?

: Does this sentence help: 'Dolly, the sheep among the animals
: in the barn, was cloned.' Dropping "the" won't yield a sentence.

How about this: "Dolly the sheep" differentiates that particular Dolly from others who are human -- e.g., Dolly Parton -- but gives it an individuality, almost a personality, that the phrase "the sheep, Dolly" doesn't contain.

I cannot recall how the German language handles descriptions like this, but they are common in the Romance languages ("Louis le Roi" = "Louis the King"), and French was for many years -- post-1066 AD -- the official and upscale language of what is now the UK.

"Against the white of the pillow" is more visual and evocative, thus more poetic.