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the reason for "the" in "the east"



 
ESL Forum | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
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the reason for "the" in "the east" #1 (permalink) Fri Dec 01, 2017 0:50 am   the reason for "the" in "the east"
 

I'd appreciate it if someone would answer my question. Thank you in advance.

A: East is one of the cardinal points.

B: The sun rises in the east.

I'd like to know the reason 'the' is not added to "East" in A, and it's added in B.

First let me explain. I think "east" in A is highly abstractive and can't be seen as one thing, so 'the' is unnecessary.

However, as for B, I think there are 2 explanations.

Explanation 1 ---
When we refer to directions, we always say X lies in (to / on), say, the east of Y.
For example we say Chicago is to the west of Detroit.
X is a target and Y is a reference point with which we locate the target.
"In (to / on)" seems to be indicating the relation between X and Y.
When a reference point is provided (X is given), a target necessarily becomes a specific one. Here a target and a reference point are both specific, and a direction is specific, too. So 'the east' is used.
A reference point is not clear in sentence B, but we can recognize the reference point
from context. The reference point here is people at large [any person].
Similarly in the sentence, the wind blows from the west, the reference point is a person or a building or a tree ---etc blown by the wind.

Is Explanation 1 right?

Explanation 2 ---
We can pick up only 4 cardinal directions (excluding, say, northeast, north‐northeast, ---etc) and see them as conceptual framework.
Here each cardinal direction can be recognized a prototype. Generally a prototype is the most typical type and is only one thing. So "the" is used.

Additionally in my opinion, a prototype is likely to create an adversary relation against another prototype. This is clear in binary opposition such as "right and left", 'front and back", but I think it's true with four-term confrontation such as "north, south, east and west". Of course each party in relations like these becomes a specific one.
I think it also explains the reason "the" is added.
However, it seems to me the additional explanation is not so important after the explanation using the idea of prototypes is given.
What do you think of Explanation 2?
Magic Dragon
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the reason for "the" in "the east" #2 (permalink) Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:00 am   the reason for "the" in "the east"
 

Seems we’re running round in circles. The subject was previously discussed here:
http://www.english-test.net/forum/ftopic144812.html#about_the_usage_of_a_definite_article_in_in_the_east_and_to_the
Eugene2114
I'm a Communicator ;-)


Joined: 22 Dec 2010
Posts: 2998

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