Using the article "the" before nationalities

Victoariae

Senior Member
macedonian
Hi everyone,

This is a question that has been bothering me for a long time now. I sometimes spot the article "the" before the nationality of a person followed by the name of the same person, and sometimes - not.

For instance, This is “Melancholia: The Diamond,” a puzzling exhibition created by the Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, which opened on Friday at the M HKA, the leading contemporary art museum in Antwerp, and runs until May 5. (Source The New York Times)

Despite an apology, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier's comments on Nazis and Hitler have seen him kicked out of the Cannes International Film Festival. (Deutsche Welle)

The Icelandic singer first revealed the assault in a similar post Sunday. While Björk does not say the director’s name outright in either post, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier directed her in 2000’s Dancer in the Dark, her only feature film. (Rolling Stone)

Could you please let me know what is the definite rule on this.

Mant thanks!
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There isn't a definite rule.

    In speech we'd be a little bit more likely to add 'the', and it's not because of the nationality: we'd talk about the film-maker Lars von Trier. In journalism it is a little bit more common to drop it, and talk about film-maker Lars von Trier.
     

    AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    I sometimes spot the article "the" before the nationality of a person followed by the name of the same person, and sometimes - not.

    For instance, This is “Melancholia: The Diamond,” a puzzling exhibition created by the Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, which opened on Friday at the M HKA, the leading contemporary art museum in Antwerp, and runs until May 5. (Source The New York Times)

    Despite an apology, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier's comments on Nazis and Hitler have seen him kicked out of the Cannes International Film Festival. (Deutsche Welle)

    The Icelandic singer first revealed the assault in a similar post Sunday. While Björk does not say the director’s name outright in either post, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier directed her in 2000’s Dancer in the Dark, her only feature film. (Rolling Stone)

    Could you please let me know what is the definite rule on this.
    The definite article makes it clear that the sentence is discussing one particular filmmaker, Lars von Trier. The adjective Danish is inserted to further clarify who the subject is. The definite article remains at the beginning of the phrase.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To me, it seems adding "the" hints that the writer feels the need to introduce the person to his audience (those reading his words). He thinks a significant percentage might not know the person. When "the" is omitted, it signals that he is not introducing the person, just referencing someone the reader already knows.

    John Jones, the American billionaire, recently donated $100,000,000 to buy every user on Word Reference a new iPad.

    In case you weren't sure who he was before you started reading, you are sure now.

    American billionaire John Jones has recently donated $100,000,000 to buy every user on Word Reference a new iPad.

    In this version, it's a reference to him but not an introduction. The writer believes you know about him already, and is just giving you the latest news.
     

    Victoariae

    Senior Member
    macedonian
    To me, it seems adding "the" hints that the writer feels the need to introduce the person to his audience (those reading his words). He thinks a significant percentage might not know the person. When "the" is omitted, it signals that he is not introducing the person, just referencing someone the reader already knows.

    John Jones, the American billionaire, recently donated $100,000,000 to buy every user on Word Reference a new iPad.

    In case you weren't sure who he was before you started reading, you are sure now.

    American billionaire John Jones has recently donated $100,000,000 to buy every user on Word Reference a new iPad.

    In this version, it's a reference to him but not an introduction. The writer believes you know about him already, and is just giving you the latest news.

    Makes sense!

    Thank you all!
     
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