Monday, April 16, 2007

The "THE" Thing

I feel like I discovered the Rosetta Stone or something.

The other night, I was having dinner with my friend Judd, and explaining to him that I felt self-conscious when chatting with my west coast friends, because of certain Southern idioms, idiosyncracies, and just plain 'ol wierd things we Southerners interject into our coversation.

Most notably, the use of the word "the". Let me explain.

Very often, when I am not really concentrating, I will let fly with something like, "I have to go to the SuperTarget later."

For some reason, this elicited giggles from my non-Southern friends, or at the very least, polite questions. "Why do you call it 'the SuperTarget'?"

Up until now, I haven't had a good answer. "I just DO, I don't know, its a Southern thing."

BUT . . . . Friday night, as I sat at a festive table at a Mexican restaurant dining with my friend Judd, I was handed the golden light of wisdom.

"The use of "the" as an article when referring to a specific location," mused Judd, in between bites of sopapillo, "indicates the implied presence of the exact location of the store."

I sat there, blinking, not really comprehending. Nibbling on a chip, I urged him to continue to impart his wisdom, and he layed it out.

"Well, for instance . . . . saying 'the' Target implies that the other party would either know the location or ask you for more information. If you say you are going to THE Target, they will either nod knowingly, or ask "which one?" and you will respond "the Target on Oak Drive . . ." or whatever. We Southerners have incorporated this into our way of commuicating. Simple as that.

I shared this with Kirk this morning via IM, feeling sure that I had finally solved the riddle. He opined, "Maybe it's because when you get a store in your town in the South, it's a big deal, like THE Walmart, because there is only one." I agreed that this was just as reasonable an explanation as any. He went on to say, "Southerners (maybe he said hicks) are retarded, sorry."

Hmm. He might be right. Anyway, I gotta go to the Kroger and get something for lunch. Later, ya'll.

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