<the> 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
The Bus Boycott also thrust into prominence a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr. He helped to organize the boycott from his Baptist church, which reminds us that black churches played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights and the 1950s: Crash Course US History #39

Does using "the" here sound correct to you?
I think zero article in such context would be much more common, would you agree?
Thanks.
 
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  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, I wouldn’t agree. It’s perfectly natural, especially when telling someone’s life story. It implies the 26-year-old Martin Luther King as opposed to the 15-year-old one, etc.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, it wouldn’t. It doesn’t mean Martin Luther King, who just happened to be 26 at the time. It means the 26-year-old version of him within this timeline of events.
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    ..a young pastor from Atlanta, the (very same) Martin Luther King Jr., who was 26 at the time, (who will go on to win The Nobel Peace Prize) but we don't know that at this time in the story.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, but theoretically, it could be expressed in different ways, depending on your view on it.

    a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a young pastor from Atlanta, 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a young pastor from Atlanta, a 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old [...] pastor from Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old [...] pastor from Atlanta, a Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old [...] pastor from Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr.:cross:

    I think all of the above would be possible except for the last, because It don't see a justification for "the" in this context. Would you agree?

    edit [...]
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I can’t imagine using any of those other than the original. Remember that much of language usage comes from us copying what we have previously heard and seen - some ways of saying things are theoretically possible but never used in practice
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Oh, right, I just forgot to cross out the "youngs" in the last three:oops:

    a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a young pastor from Atlanta, 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a young pastor from Atlanta, a 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, a Martin Luther King, Jr.
    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr.:cross:
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English
    The Bus Boycott also thrust into prominence a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr. He helped to organize the boycott from his Baptist church, which reminds us that black churches played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
    Civil Rights and the 1950s: Crash Course US History #39

    Does using "the" here sound correct to you?
    I think zero article in such context would be much more common, would you agree?
    Thanks.
    Yes, it is correct. Not using "the" definite article, here, could be more common. However, more common does not mean more correct.

    The question is "Why did he use the definite article?".

    This means the 26-year old as opposed to any other age that could be used to identify him such as "the 30-year old" or the "35-year old".

    By saying "the 26-year old", they are speaking directly to, or making note of, how young he was while participating in this monumental and extremely significant event in history.

    We will not find any spoken English mistakes at the Crash Course site such as using "the" definite article incorrectly. As far as I can tell, native speakers of English do all the narrations at Crash Course. So I would not question whether or not it sounds correct. I would question why they used "the" article.
     
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    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    "the" definite article, from theoxforddictionaries.com:

    Denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge.

    1.1Used to refer to a person, place, or thing that is unique.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you everyone.
    I can’t imagine using any of those other than the original.
    I edited it in #11. Would you still say that only the first one is correct? There are different combinations with "a/the/zero+adjective+proper name" which could be used and I believe I could justify any option in #11.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The Bus Boycott also thrust into prominence a young pastor from Atlanta, the 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr. He helped to organize the boycott from his Baptist church, which reminds us that black churches played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
    Civil Rights and the 1950s: Crash Course US History #39

    Does using "the" here sound correct to you?
    I think zero article in such context would be much more common, would you agree?
    Thanks.
    Why use the definite article? There are pragmatic reasons (see post #13), and there is a syntactic reason (it completes a noun phrase), all of which makes the phrasing all the more expressive (at least to my eyes). Can you nonetheless omit the definite article? Sure. It's not ungrammatical. The things that "the" does pragmatically (common knowledge, uniqueness), don't just vanish without the definite article, and we still understand that "26 year old Martin Luther King Jr." is a noun phrase.

    But I wouldn't say,

    a young pastor from Atlanta, a 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    the first "a" makes sense, because the indefinite article "picks" one member of the class "young pastor," and this member is indefinite in nature. If an article is added later, I would use "the" because the definite article specifies (it's not meant to be "indefinite" in nature).

    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, a Martin Luther King, Jr.

    "Martin Luther King Jr." is not indefinite (so no indefinite article)

    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr.
    we don't really use definite article with names of people.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    a young pastor from Atlanta, a 26 year old Martin Luther King, Jr.
    the first "a" makes sense, because the indefinite article "picks" one member of the class "young pastor," and this member is indefinite in nature. If an article is added later, I would use "the" because the definite article specifies (it's not meant to be "indefinite" in nature).

    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, a Martin Luther King, Jr.

    "Martin Luther King Jr." is not indefinite (so no indefinite article)
    The idea was "a certain Martin Luther King, Jr.", like, when a sceretary reports to her boss, "A Mr Smith is waiting for you downstairs."
    Why couldnt' it work in the OP?

    a 26 year old pastor from Atlanta, the Martin Luther King, Jr.
    we don't really use definite article with names of people.
    We do:eek:, and quite often. But not in this context, and that's why I marked it with an :cross:.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    English
    The idea was "a certain Martin Luther King, Jr.", like, when a sceretary reports to her boss, "A Mr Smith is waiting for you downstairs."
    Why couldnt' it work in the OP?
    It's speaker viewpoint again -- and context. Using "a" indefinite article is grammatically correct, but that's really not the point.

    "The" definite article communicates the idea of "the one and only". "A" indefinite article communicates the idea of "one of others" or "just this one of others that could be here to visit the secretary's employer".

    Using "a" indefinite article in this context to speak of Martin Luther King is not dignified. It does not come across as affording this name, Martin Luther King, the proper respect and dignity that it merits.

    a Mr. Smith < This communicates the idea that the secretary doesn't know who Mr. Smith is.

    The 26-year old Martin Luther King <

    This name is so significant and important that it must only be preceded by "the" definite article. Everyone knows who this is. This is not just one man of others or a man among others. This man stands out as one of a kind.

    This is "THEE" Martin Luther King.

    Neither would we say "a 35-year-old Mahatma Gandhi".

    Neither would we say "a 45-year old John F. Kennedy".

    In both of these cases, the same reasoning applies.

    Consider any other good and great person throughout history, and we can apply the same reasoning.

    In the ordinary, boring, and mundane world of a secretary telling her employer that someone is here to see him, we can use "a" indefinite article. There's nothing, necessarily, special about some guy sitting in a reception area waiting to see some other guy for a business meeting of some sort. This happens every day thousands and thousands of times. It's special for them but not for everyone else.

    There is no rule or structure idea that guides this. It's only speaker viewpoint in context.

    It could seem as though there is a sort of rule or pattern to follow. However, it's really only speaker viewpoint in context. There are what we can call "universal speaker viewpoints" in context. Some contexts are more ordinary and usual, and other contexts are less common and not as usual.
     
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