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Highways
2016/01/08
9:28am
dkropp
Moorpark, CA
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Southern Californians (I’m proud to be an Angelino), I thought uniquely refer to highways by using “the” and the highway number (this has even been satirized on SNL) such as “the 101”  I’m reading a mystery book by Brit Peter Lovesey that refers to heading out on “the A6.”  Do I need to desensitize my phrase radar (Phradar)? 

2016/01/08
11:01am
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Heimhenge
New River, AZ, USA
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I don’t find that at all unusual. Here in Arizona, we also refer to highways like that. But then, a lot of what we “zonies” do is stolen from CA. I don’t think it’s a British vs. American English thing. Now back in the Midwest (where I grew up) we never referred to highways like that. It was always “highway #” or “interstate #”.

First time I ever heard that usage was by Johnny Carson doing his classic “Art Fern” shtick, and referring to “THE Slauson Cutoff”. For those too young to remember, here’s his routine:

2016/01/08
2:54pm
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deaconB
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There are many highways that have names as well as numbe to 6rs, and they tend to be better known by the name. to the 6 exit

For instance, there’s the Cross County Highway north of Cicunnatu. It must have a number, but I don’t know what it is any more.  US 30 and US 40 are Lincoln Highwat and the National Road, except that when the highway was relocated to upgrade the road, the numbered road moves, but the named road remains the same.

I’m not sure where Dixie Highway starts or ends. When I was going to the University of Dayton, I thought it was local, but eventually found in other locations as well.

The Indiana Toll Road, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike connect to the ends of the Ohio Tollroad, abd it’s either I-80 or I-90 or both, but if you’re taking it, it’s generally just called “the turnpike” in those three states as if it was one road.  In Illinois, it becomes the Dan Ryan.

In many cities, there are shoty highways called “the bypass” and of late, it’s an interstate with a three-digit moniker, but  often a “bypass” is called “the loop”.  In Indianapolis, they have an inner and an outer loop, but in Chocago, the loop is a neighborhood rather than a highway.

And while news stories refer to Interstate 69 or Highway 6 or Route 127 or SR 637 or Indiana 101,  advertisement and in oral language, people are told to take  69 to 6 and head east to 101, leaving off the full name.  I suspect all this is pretty common everywhere.  

2016/01/08
7:29pm
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EmmettRedd
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And, in the Washington, DC area, there is the Beltway.

2016/01/08
9:40pm
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Robert
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Perhaps you use  The  more where it concerns general discussions,  and drop it where giving direction:

The I-30 goes all the way to Little Rock.

Take I-30 and go east for 10 miles.

To me the rules concerning the article   The   are always mystifying-  you generally feel pretty confident with  the  when  of it,  but the why  is often hard to  explain.

2016/01/13
3:07pm
flaneur
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I saw Charlie Kaufman’s terrific new film, Anomalisa, at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October. It was one of my favorite films of the festival, but my enjoyment was almost ruined by a terrible and unforgivable gaffe.

The film takes place at a convention hotel in Cincinnati during a regional seminar for customer service representatives. Lisa, the character voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh, means to say that she and her friend, who live in Akron, woke up in the morning, got in the car, and drove from Akron to Cincinnati on Interstate 71. What she says is: “We took the 71 this morning from Akron.”

No one who grew up in Ohio, or who lived in Ohio, would ever––in a million years––refer to “the 71”, employing the definite article. This is clearly a California locution that has slipped into the script and that totally undermines any claim to Middle American authenticity.

Yes, we all know that the OJ chase took place on “the 405“. That was in Los Angeles. The proper Ohio dialogue would have been either: “We took 71 this morning from Akron” or “We took I-71 this morning from Akron.” Possibly even, “We took the freeway this morning from Akron.” But never “the 71”.

I blame this egregious error on the parochialism of either Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, who’s lived in LA since 1991, or Jennifer Jason Leigh, a lifelong resident.

2016/01/13
3:15pm
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Heimhenge
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Welcome to the forum flaneur. I grew up in the Midwest and totally agree with your supposition about West Coast “contamination” of the script. Kaufman (or Leigh) clearly missed the boat on that one. Doubt you could expect anyone to catch that in the editing phase.

2016/01/14
12:11am
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RobertB
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Well, actually ,  consider this-

One use of the article   The  is to take account  of   your  listener’s  view point  being different from your own, and therefore that they wouldn’t be alert enough to the things you are talking about.   For instance, workers inside a company would refer to product lines by names when speaking among themselves;  but when  introducing the products to customers, they would add  The  to the names.   In general, (but not as a rule), familiarity, or anticipation of it,  allows dropping the article.  Conversely, unfamiliarity generally requires it.

So what is Jenrifer Jacent Leigh doing?  She’s way away from her home tuft,  meeting people who have different mindsets from hers (whole new set of hi-ways branching out of Cincinnati in addition to I-71),  so she adds   The,  a sign of empathy, if not an outright natural reaction.

2016/01/14
12:32am
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deaconB
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RobertB said
So what is Jenrifer Jacent Leigh doing?

Unless it’s someone other than I’m thinking, she’s calling herself Jennifer Jason Leigh, that’s what she’s doing.

She was the daughter of Vic (Sgt Saunders in Conbat!) Morrow and writer Barbara (Eye of the Sparrow) Turner.  They divorced when Jennifer was two, and she changed her name from Jennifer Leigh Morrow to Jennifer Jason Leigh early in her professional career. Jason is for Jason Robards, a family friend.

I never noticed that familiarity allowed dropping the the, but of course, I agree with you.

2016/01/14
2:24am
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RobertB
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Thanks for seeing something in that.

But I have to clarify a bit here:  this rationale based on familiarity doesn’t have to be about any one particular object or concept– obviously the highway I-71 is familiar to both her and the new people she meets at the other end of the same highway.  Rather, it’s  her whole realization that she is dealing with new people that compels her to switch on the  ‘unfamiliar mode,’   that is,  to use  The  where she did not before.

2016/01/14
11:19am
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Dick
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Robert, I think your theory may be true in some situations, but in this specific movie a woman who lives in Ohio is in another city in Ohio (out of her turf?) talking about a section of highway from one city in Ohio to another city in Ohio.  For her to change the way she speaks in that situation seems extremely unlikely.  Even though I can imagine someone using such affected speech, I never would.  I would speak the way I normally speak then if there were misunderstanding we could work it out.

2016/01/14
2:41pm
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RobertB
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Well it’s a good 3 hrs flat out drive, right?  To me any distance greater than 1 hr  would start to make me feel away from home.

2016/01/14
4:05pm
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Heimhenge
New River, AZ, USA
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RobertB said: To me any distance greater than 1 hr  would start to make me feel away from home.

Well that’s kinda relative/subjective. I grew up in a town of 12,000, and other nearby towns were 10-15 minute drives. Hell, we bicycled between them as kids. But now that I live in the Phoenix metro area a 1-hour drive doesn’t seem like much at all. To really feel “away from home” I’d need to get outside Arizona. That might be part of the western US experience though. You just get used to large open spaces and longer distances between points of interest.

2016/05/03
11:15pm
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RobertB
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deaconB said

I never noticed that familiarity allowed dropping the the, but of course, I agree with you.

Here is a viewpoint concerning    the   that, in a manner, concurs with what I said above.   To quote  with added emphasis:

The entertainer has long spoken about minority groups with the outdated formulation involving a definite article: “I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks,” he said in 2011, using language that undermined his claim. He’s said similar things about “the Hispanics.”

So sometimes  the  indicates that the entity  you are talking about is distant from you or, to be empathetic to your listener, from them.  

(It should be obvious that I am talking about language usage here, nothing about the current political controversies.)

2016/05/05
4:18am
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EmmettRedd
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Heimhenge said
First time I ever heard that usage was by Johnny Carson doing his classic “Art Fern” shtick, and referring to “THE Slauson Cutoff”.

Upon re-reading this post, I thought of “The Natchez Trace”. I think you can find some support for using ‘The’ with ‘Natchez Trace’ in 19th century books found via this Ngram.

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