I have been pondering the definite article following the elevation of Birmingham City to the FA Premier League, as, I am sure, have you.
The Second City’s second team plays in blue, just like Chelsea and Everton, and one could reasonably expect them to be known as the Blues. But one would be wrong. Dead wrong.
Birmingham City are known, simply and perversely, as Blues. With NO definite article.
This leads to what I have termed Ida – Imbalance of the Definite Article. This occurs when the definite article is expected but does not appear. But, as nature abhors a vacuum, so linguistics provides its own remedy.
For example, Russian has no definite article. ‘Vot dom’ is Russian for ‘Here is the house’, but it is also Russian for ‘Here is a house.’ This appalling lack of ‘the’-ness is amply compensated for by German, where one cannot move for definite articles. Blimey, even French has four.
Latin, too, has no definite article, but Ancient Greek rides to the rescue with zillions of the buggers.
I think I’ve proved my point amply. But this doesn’t solve the Blues problem. Where, oh, where can we find the definite articles to compensate for this cosmic imbalance?
I’ve discovered that Liverpudlians have taken, in force, to referring to the Wal-Mart owned supermarket chain ASDA as “The ASDA.” (This is quite specific to that supermarket chain; there’s no groundswell referring to “The Tesco”* or “The Sainsbury’s”.)
Once again, the people of Liverpool have come to the aid of the cosmos**. But will they receive any credit? No, they bloody won’t.
*There’s a bit of excessive possessiveness, with common use of “Tesco’s,” but that is neither specific to Liverpool, nor of any relevance to my thesis. I’d be very grateful if you’d ignore it altogether. Ta.
** Cf. the Great Pyjama Imbalance of 2001. Too many pairs of pyjamas were being worn at night and indoors, so many Liverpudlians did their part and turned out on the streets of the city in their PJs. Just to be on the safe side, some vigilant Scousers continue so to do.