After a few days off I like to jump right in with a hard-hitting look at one of the pressing issues of the day. In that spirit, I pass along this press release:
The League of Language Cranks (LLC) today announced the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Definite Articles (SPDA.)
LLC founder Jim Naughton said the word “the” was among the most endangered in the English language.
“I am constantly hearing people use the expression ‘in future,’ said Naughton, who is also the society’s temporary chair and the league’s sole member. “Future is not a proper noun. It is not Christmas. It is not Luxembourg. It requires an article.”
Naughton said he was particularly distressed by the neglect of definitive articles among the younger set. “Take ‘prom,’ he said. “It used to be the prom, a definite article for a definite event. Now it’s just prom. ‘We are going to Prom.’ Apocalypse takes a definite article, but prom goes unmodified.”
“Next thing you know, it will be a verb,” he warned
Scholars have hypothesized that the decline in the use of definite articles is caused by contemporary speakers’ desire for economy of expression.
“Nonsense,” Naughton said. “I blame the British. These innovations always begin with them. In future. In hospital. On holiday. Sometimes I just want to run up to them shouting “The.The.The.The.The.The.The.”
Naughton said the SPDA platform allowed for the incorporation of certain British expressions into American speech, but expressed a preference for “such phrases as are frequently used by rural constabularies on British detective shows.”
“I am particularly fond of ‘That’s as may be,’ he added.
The SPDA has attempted to recruit partners for a massive public awareness campaign, but thus far without success. Leading newspaper publishers, citing cost concerns, have declined to print definite articles in red ink, and Ebay has rejected Naughton’s suggestion that it feature the word “the” rather than “it” in its popular television commercials.
“What we’d really like to do is sponsor a college bowl game,” Naughton said. “Either The Bowl, or The The Bowl. But we don’t have that kind of cash.”
With his education campaign at a standstill, the SPDA leader was evasive about whether the group might seek a legislative remedy.
“We have no such plans,” Naughton said. “At present.”