Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Disappearing Article

Reference to Vermonters being possessed of (or by) a sense of place keeps coming up in many of the materials I've been reading over the last couple of months--in books, in quotes from folks appearing in the various reports from the Council on the Future of Vermont, in reviews where art concerning Vermont is considered. Many places.

This reminded me of something said by someone I worked with years ago who had recently come up here from New Jersey. In a tone bordering on disgust, she said, "It drives me crazy that people up here use the definite article when you ask them where they live!"

She was referring of course to exactly the kind of answer I give when someone asks me where I live. My answer: I live on the Buck Hollow Road.

THE Buck Hollow Road. But, if one lives in a city, of course you don't say that. You say, "I live on Congress Street."

My deep language and literature background causes my skin to crawl when I consider how long it might be before this particular use of the definite article is not a significator of a rural Vermonter, but rather an anachronism.

And, I can tell you when this will occur: it will happen when your road is no longer a rural road. And then, the word "road" will itself be an anachronism. We don't have roads in cities, we have streets.

No comments:

Post a Comment