The Hague

Why is the city THE Hague called The Hague. We don’t call Berlin, The Berlin or Detroit, The Detroit, etc.

I asked this before to several furreners that I worked with and none of them could give me any answer.

Well, in Dutch it is Den Haag and more properly s’Gravenhaag(e?)-- The Count’s Hedge. For some reason we kept the article in English. I guess this begs the question doesn’t it? Gee, I’m so helpful.

From the Hague’s official website:

So The Hague is a truncated version of the town’s original name. Any Dutch speakers out there who can translate “Gravenhage”?

As I understood, it means something quite akin to “Count’s Hedge” (hopefully Clogboy will be along soon to give a better translation). So when shortened, it becomes The Hedge.

There are, of course, a number of places which do include the definite article. “Nobody from The Gambia has ever chanced, while visiting Oregon, to spend the night in The Dalles.”

You left out one of the best known: The Bronx (originally “the Bronck’s,” from Jonas Bronck, the first settler).

“You’re from the Bronx? Which Bronk?” "D

It seems that the British use “the” more often than Amreican English speakers in connection with places such as the Gambia and the Lebanon. I know there are others, but I can’t think of them now.

Australian and NZ dopers: “the” or no “the”?

This usage seems to be on the wane. Other examples that used to be current many years ago were [ul]
[li]The Argentine[/li][li]The Levant (Israel, Palestine)[/li][li]Hi, Opal![/li][/ul].

The following now seem to be joining this group:
[li]The Congo[/li][li]The Ukraine[/li][li]Hi, Opal, again![/li][/ul]
Of course, this is just how they seem to be used by the news media. I know that press offices have lengthy style manuals; it seems that for the past few years the “The” has been dropped from Congo and Ukraine. I don’t know if people in those countries have asked journalists to drop the article, or if it was done for some other reason. Personally I find it very jarring when they say just “Ukraine” or “Congo”. Even if the inhabitants don’t like people to say the article, I don’t think that should govern how foreigners name their countries in their own languages.

I think it happens in every language that some place names include an article. It is not that the name of the place is Hague and we call it the Hague but rather that the name of the place is “The Hague” and it is easy to imagine how such names would develop. Any descriptive name like “The lowlands”, “The Meadows”, “The Mine”, etc would tend to keep the article once it became a proper name. AFAIK it happenes in every language.

That is different than using the article with a geographical name which dod not have it originally.

Ukraine hasn’t been “the” Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union. IIRC, Ukraine means frontier, and Ukrainians consider it demeaning to refer to their homeland as the frontier for Russia. Instead, it’s just plain ol’ Ukraine.

Definitely not in every language: a great deal don’t have definite articles (or articles of any kind) including Russian and I am assuming, Ukrainian (…the Ukranian? :slight_smile: )

Band name!:cool:

Note, too, that Romance languages (especially French) are somewhat more effusive about the definite article before city names. (Country and province names in French take an article, except, for some reason, for Cuba and Israel.) They have:

Le Havre
La Mecque (Mecca)
Le Caire (Cairo)
La Haye (The Hague)
La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans)
La Tuque, Quebec

and a variety of others that I don’t recall at the moment.

I believe Le Havre and La Mecque are very different cases. Le Havre is “The Port” like Oporto is the port and the article is integral part of the name, where as in La Mecque the article is really used as an article and not part of the “real” name.

I would guess that the reason that French puts the article on La Mecque (and Le Caire) is that in Arabic they have articles. As far as I can tell, Arabic is the language mostly likely to put articles on names.

As far as The Bronx, Cecil already gave the answer for that one: Why is the Bronx called THE Bronx?.

One thing I noticed about Spanish-named cities: articles on them are quite rare in Spain, but fairly common in the United States: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, El Paso, Las Cruces, Los Gatos, El Centro, Los Alamos, …

Don’t forget my home town El Monte, immortalized by James Elroy in MY DARK PLACES.

capybara and peepthis are both correct.

's Gravenhage [the count’s hedge, or hedgerow] is the same as Den Haag [The Hague]

There are more towns like that; 's Hertogenbosch [the Duke’s forrest] became Den Bosch [the forrest]

It’s easier in the mouth, I guess, though there are still places like: 's Gravelande [the count’s land] which is *not * shortened to Den Land.

I guess no-one ever gets there anyway.

In Australia, we’ve dropped the “The” for Gambia and Lebanon. It sounds old fashioned to my ears (but I like it). We do say “The Levant” though.

I have read Sydney newspapers from the 19th Century, and was surprised to see many local placenames familiar to me being given a “The”. Most commonly, this applied to roads. Parramatta Road, which is one of the city’s busiest, most important arteries, was The Parramatta Road. I guess this stems from the time when these roads were mere horse tracks which gained their popular names before their official ones.

Local regions here often still have the definite article. The Central Coast, The Western Plains, The Illawarra, The Snowy Mountains, but also Gippsland, New England (yes, we have one too), and
Corner Country. I don’t think there is any sort of rule for this; it seems purely arbitrary.

In Arabic, al-Qâhirah (Cairo) uses the article, although Makkah (Mecca) does not.

Greek is the one language I know that always uses the definite article with people’s names. In Greek, an expression like “The Dave” is not just a cutesy nickname, that’s how they always talk.

In northern Italy there’s a town named “La Spezia.” My Italian teacher said he always hated the sound of that name but couldn’t explain why.

What about (the) Sudan? I heard a few years ago that they were going to rename the country just plain “Sudan”. Something about “The Sudan” being a remnant of colonialist imperialism that they wanted to leave behind them. Even though the country’s name in Arabic is actually al-Sûdân.

‘[symbol]o Tzomo[/symbol]

This is not quite true. Jonas Bronck gave his name to the local river; and some time later, the river gave its name to the land which would become the borough. The “the” is there because of the river, not because people used to speak of the land as “the Broncks’” as is commonly believed.