A History of Britain

  • liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    I think you're exactly right. The title emphasizes the fact that this is one historian's interpretation of events.
     

    Valvs

    Senior Member
    Russian
    When you are speaking about the aggregate of past events that happened in Britain, you are speaking about the history of Britain. When you are speaking about a narration or systematic exposition of those events (as in a book, etc.), you are speaking about a history.
     

    ABBA Stanza

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Hi dec-sev,

    I sense that you might like some further clarification. ;)

    So, we are dealing with a modest historian here :)
    I don't think it's necessarily connected with modesty, although that could play a role in some circumstances.

    As pointed out by valvs, "history" can mean either the aggregate (= sum) of past events or a chronological account of them. The former is of course unique, and hence is invariably accompanied by the definite article. The latter is usually (but not always) non-unique, thus necessitating the indefinite article.

    Examples:

    "The History of Britain" :tick: (The word "history" is used here to mean "aggregate of [significant] past events".)

    "A History of Britain" :tick: ("History" is used here in the sense of "chronological account of past events".)

    "An Illustrated History of Britain" :tick: (Note: the use of the definite article here would not be grammatically incorrect, but would imply that there is only one account of British history with illustrations, which is very unlikely.)

    "The Reader's Digest History of Britain" :tick: (The definite article is reasonable here, because there's probably only one account of British history that is published by Reader's Digest.)

    Hope that helps. :)

    Cheers,
    Abba
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    As pointed out by valvs, "history" can mean either the aggregate (= sum) of past events or a chronological account of them. The former is of course unique, and hence is invariably accompanied by the definite article. The latter is usually (but not always) non-unique, thus necessitating the indefinite article.

    Examples:

    "The History of Britain" :tick: (The word "history" is used here to mean "aggregate of [significant] past events".)
    Now it’s more or less clear. Still I’m not sure that I understand "aggregate of [significant] past events" correctly. Is it an enumeration of events with the dates? Something like this:
    1939 – 1945:WWII, etc…
    "A History of Britain" :tick: ("History" is used here in the sense of "chronological account of past events".)
    It’s logical, as any account or description of an event is nothing but somebody’s account/description of it. But look at this:

    Focusing on the political and social developments of the 19th and 20th centuries, Rodrick discusses the evolving relationship between monarch and parliament,…

    It’s from the description of The History of Great Britain written by Anne Baltz Rodrick. So, the author discusses something, or in other words gives her opinion. According to the classification you gave the book should fall into the same category as "The Reader's Digest History of Britain" provided we alter the title “The History of Great Britain by Anne Baltz Rodrick”. Still we have “The history of Great Britain”.
    Thinking about the matter I’ve come to the conclusion that we should exclude the definite article altogether when we speak about history :)
     
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