the/an American word expert

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Noah Webster, the American word expert, liked this word. He put it in his English language dictionary in eighteen-oh-six.
(...............)
In eighteen seventy-two, a famous American word expert decided that the time had come to kill this word.
Words and Their Stories: Belittle

I wonder why American word expert takes "the", I'd expect "an". With 'the', looks like there was only one American word expert at that time.
Or maybe they mean:
the
16. used to emphasize that the person, place, or thing you are mentioning is the famous one, or the best or most fashionable one. ‘The’ is pronounced strongly or written in a special way: ‘Elizabeth Taylor was there.’ ‘Not the Elizabeth Taylor, surely?’ Miami is THE place for girls who like to live life to the full.
Thank you.
 
  • perpend

    Banned
    American English
    For me, it's just like the definition says. Using "the" emphasizes Noah Webster, who maybe at that time was considered the* authority on words.

    *This "the" is the same sort of usage.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    For me, it's just like the definition says. Using "the" emphasizes Noah Webster, who maybe at that time was considered the* authority on words.

    *This "the" is the same sort of usage.
    The thing that is unclear to me in this case is that the speaker isn't emphasizing this "the" in any way. Or it doesn't matter?
     
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    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Noah Webster, the American word expert, liked this word.
    I read this as "Noah Webster -- and if you don't know who I'm talking about, I mean the Noah Webster who was an American and a word expert -- liked this word. (Not some other ordinary Noah Webster.)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Noah Webster, the American word expert, liked this word. He put it in his English language dictionary in eighteen-oh-six.
    PaulQ, the poster on WRF, also liked this word. He put it in his English notebook in 2012.
    VikNikSor, the owner of a Cobuild dicitonary, asked another question.

    The bolded parts are basically acting adjectivally to the proper name that (i) distinguishes the holder of the name from all others of the same name and (ii) provides a little more information. You can always add "who is" between the name and the qualification/further description.

    You will also note that you can omit either the name or the additional phrase.

    In your other example "In eighteen seventy-two, a famous American word expert decided that the time had come to kill this word." 'A' is used to indicate 'one [from many].'
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    PaulQ, the poster on WRF, also liked this word. He put it in his English notebook in 2012.
    Hi Paul---I couldn't really use "the" in that example. I'd have to use ".. a poster on WRF ...". Just my opinion. I don't think it's quite comparable to the other examples.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    The thing that is unclear to me in this case is that the speaker isn't emphasizing this "the" in any way. Or it doesn't matter?
    I wouldn't have expected it to; and, yes, it does matter. It makes all the difference.

    I read as meaning, 'Noah Webster (and for those of you who don't know or remember, he was an American word expert) liked this word. He put it in his English language dictionary in eighteen-oh-six.'
     
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    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hi Paul---I couldn't really use "the" in that example. I'd have to use ".. a poster on WRF ...". Just my opinion. I don't think it's quite comparable to the other examples.
    What would you say to distinguish two different PaulQ's? We need to distinguish PaulQ, the poster on WRF, from PaulQ, the author of "I Have Never Posted on WRF."
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you for the answers.

    One question to Beryl:
    >>I wouldn't have expected to; and, yes, it does matter. It makes all the difference.

    I'm not sure I understand you. Do you mean "I wouldn't have expected "the" in this sentence to be emphasized, because it's not an example of use of "the" like that in the quote":
    16. used to emphasize that the person, place, or thing you are mentioning is the famous one, or the best or most fashionable one. ‘The’ is pronounced strongly or written in a special way: ‘Elizabeth Taylor was there.’ ‘Not the Elizabeth Taylor, surely?’ Miami is THE place for girls who like to live life to the full.
    ?
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I wouldn't have expected the 'the' in the sample sentence to be pronounced /thee/ when read out loud. There's nothing in the context that would suggest that it should be that way.

    >> Do you mean "I wouldn't have expected "the" in this sentence to be emphasized, because it's not an example of use of "the" like that in the quote" ...

    I did, although, regrettably, I omitted a crucial 'it'. Sorry about that, Vik. I've edited it now. :)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I wouldn't have expected the 'the' in the sample sentence to be pronounced /thee/ when read out loud. There's nothing in the context that would suggest that it should be that way.

    >> Do you mean "I wouldn't have expected "the" in this sentence to be emphasized, because it's not an example of use of "the" like that in the quote" ...

    I did, although, regrettably, I omitted a crucial 'it'. Sorry about that, Vik. I've edited it now. :)
    On second thought, I have found that I still don't understand something.:)
    Paul said "The bolded parts are basically acting adjectivally to the proper name that (i) distinguishes the holder of the name from all others of the same name and". As I see, the idea is that there are other Pauls, Viks, etc, but they are not posters on WRF/the owners of a Cobuild dicitonary.
    But you said "Noah Webster (and for those of you who don't know or remember, he was an American word expert) liked this word", and you're using the indefinite article (an American word expert). I mean I don't understand why
    "Noah Webster (and for those of you who don't know or remember, he was an American word expert) liked this word"
    is equal to
    Noah Webster, the American word expert, liked this word.

    In other words, why adding/removing the part in bold affects the usage of the articles.
    What would you say to distinguish two different PaulQ's? We need to distinguish PaulQ, the poster on WRF, from PaulQ, the author of "I Have Never Posted on WRF."
    I think you mean two different people, but it also can mean the same Paul (in some context), right?
     
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    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Perhaps it will help if you think of the sentence with the words shifted around a bit - "The American word expert Noah Webster liked this word".

    To me, it does not imply that he was the only American word expert - but he is the one being talked about here, the one named Noah Webster.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think an important aspect is being overlooked.
    "The" is often used to acknowledge status. If I wrote: "Charles Dickens, an English author, liked beer" it would be grammatically correct but unusual. I have no proof that no other English writer had that name but it would seem demeaning to say "a" in that context.
    It can be confusing though.

    If I wrote: "Nelson Mandela, the prisoner on Robben Island, ate porridge" that would be odd.

    In both cases, there were many other people of that description (English writer or prisoner on Robben Island).
     
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