Driving from 101 to The 101: An Analysis of Determiner Usage in Californian Speech

Pranav Singh, Melissa Yang, Yoosoo Jang, Ross Perry, and Nathan Midkiff

Do you refer to Highway 101 as “101” or “the 101”? Perhaps many people have seen the case of putting ‘the’ in front of the highway. A determiner, like “the”, is an important element of grammar, and is usually used in front of a noun that has a specific meaning. But the rule of determiner “the” can be ignored in particular cases. We can also observe from the mass media that it is sometimes a little different when referring to highways. We found two videos from YouTube that show different ways to call Highway 101 according to region.

In the news on Los Angeles, Highway 101 is referred to as ‘the 101’.

In the news on San Francisco, Highway 101 is referred to as ‘101’.

Most people know that language can be influenced by culture and geography, but the majority of people do not know how they’ve influenced the language. Little research has been done to explore what reasons affect the difference between regions especially in referring to highways, so in this study we aim to analyze the connection between specific sociological/geographic factors and the usage of “the 101” or “101” by collecting data.

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