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Pronunciation In most dialects, "the" is pronounced as /ðə/ (with the voiced dental fricative /ð/ followed by a schwa) when followed by a consonant sound, and as /ðiː/ (homophone of pronoun thee) when followed by a vowel sound or used as an emphatic form.[2] Modern American and New Zealand English have an increasing tendency to limit usage of /ðiː/ pronunciation and use /ðə/, even before a vowel.[3][4] Sometimes the word "the" is pronounced /ðiː/, with stress, to emphasise that something is unique: "he is the expert", not just "an" expert in a field. Adverbial See also: wikt:the § Etymology 2 Definite article principles in English are described under "Use of articles". The, as in phrases like "the more the better", has a distinct origin and etymology and by chance has evolved to be identical to the definite article.[5] Article The and that are common developments from the same Old English system. Old English had a definite article se (in the masculine gender), sēo (feminine), and þæt (neuter). In Middle English, these had all merged into þe, the ancestor of the Modern English word the.[6] Geographic usage An area in which the use or non-use of the is sometimes problematic is with geographic names: notable natural landmarks – rivers, seas, mountain ranges, deserts, island groups (archipelagoes) and so on – are generally used with a "the" definite article (the Rhine, the North Sea, the Alps, the Sahara, the Hebrides). continents, individual islands, administrative units and settlements mostly do not take a "the" article (Europe, Jura, Austria (but the Republic of Austria), Scandinavia, Yorkshire (but the County of York), Madrid). beginning with a common noun followed by of may take the article, as in the Isle of Wight or the Isle of Portland (compare Christmas Island), same applies to names of institutions: Cambridge University, but the University of Cambridge. Some place names include an article, such as the Bronx, The Oaks, The Rock, The Birches, The Harrow, The Rower, The Swan, The Valley, The Farrington, The Quarter, The Plains, The Dalles, The Forks, The Village, The Village (NJ), The Village (OK), The Villages, The Village at Castle Pines, The Woodlands, The Pas, the Vatican, The Hyde, the West End, the East End, The Hague, or the City of London (but London). Formerly e.g. Bath, Devizes or White Plains.[7] generally described singular names, the North Island (New Zealand) or the West Country (England), take an article. Countries and territorial regions are notably mixed, most exclude "the" but there are some that adhere to secondary rules: derivations from collective common nouns such as "kingdom", "republic", "union", etc.: the Central African Republic, the Dominican Republic, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, the United Arab Emirates, including most country full names:[8][9] the Czech Republic (but Czechia), the Russian Federation (but Russia), the Principality of Monaco (but Monaco), the State of Israel (but Israel) and the Commonwealth of Australia (but Australia).[10][11][12] countries in a plural noun: the Netherlands, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Philippines, the Comoros, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and The Bahamas. Singular derivations from "island" or "land" that hold administrative rights – Greenland, England, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island – do not take a "the" definite article. derivations from mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, etc., are sometimes used with an article, even for singular, (the Lebanon, the Sudan, the Yukon, the Congo).[13] This usage is in decline, The Gambia remains recommended whereas use of the Argentine for Argentina is considered old-fashioned. Ukraine is occasionally referred to as the Ukraine, a usage that was common during the 20th century, but this is considered incorrect and possibly offensive in modern usage.[14] Sudan (but the Republic of the Sudan) and South Sudan (but the Republic of South Sudan) are written nowadays without the article.






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The earliest certain ancestor of "A" is aleph (also written 'aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet,[4] which consisted entirely of consonants (for that reason, it is also called an abjad to distinguish it from a true alphabet). In turn, the ancestor of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script[5] influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended. When the ancient Greeks adopted the alphabet, they had no use for a letter to represent the glottal stop—the consonant sound that the letter denoted in Phoenician and other Semitic languages, and that was the first phoneme of the Phoenician pronunciation of the letter—so they used their version of the sign to represent the vowel /a/, and called it by the similar name of alpha. In the earliest Greek inscriptions after the Greek Dark Ages, dating to the 8th century BC, the letter rests upon its side, but in the Greek alphabet of later times it generally resembles the modern capital letter, although many local varieties can be distinguished by the shortening of one leg, or by the angle at which the cross line is set. The Etruscans brought the Greek alphabet to their civilization in the Italian Peninsula and left the letter unchanged. The Romans later adopted the Etruscan alphabet to write the Latin language, and the resulting letter was preserved in the Latin alphabet that would come to be used to write many languages, including English. Typographic variants Different glyphs of the lowercase letter A. During Roman times, there were many variant forms of the letter "A". First was the monumental or lapidary style, which was used when inscribing

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