I enjoy the discussion in June Casagrande's blog. The title is "COPY EDITORS LEAPING FROM BRIDGES? COULD BE A SIGN OF 'THE TIMES'
I'm fascinated by style aesthetics and the thoughts behind them. I'm learning how native speakers feel about them, and what organizations or books are currently influencing American punctuation and style. The use of "The Times" with capital T when Los Angeles Times reporters refer to own company sounds like a self-esteem issue. As Huntington pointed out in June's blog, Los Angeles Times does not have "the" on their name but this omission also sounds like because of self-esteem. We value how we look at the world, and at the same time, we care how other people look at us. And The New York Times is The New York Times because they want to preserve and perhaps elevate their glorious history, so that is also because of self-esteem.
Aesthetics changes by times. It is subtle but visible. This may sound like jumping the subject, but talking of self- esteem, I think I started to see the hidden or bigger part about why Americans might think Japanese apologize too much. The root of this cause has been a mystery that I haven't solved completely. I used to apologize a lot but stopped when talking with westerners. Too much apology equals less self-esteem especially in the American society. But I have no such gauge.
In 1967 or 68, I went to a dance at Saint Joseph College in Yokohama. The school is gone now, but it was the first time I made a visit to an English speaking school. The dance started with a comedy sketch in which two boys started to say, "That's mine," in English. It escalated to a shouting match. People around me giggled. I couldn't understand why they kept repeating the same line. Maybe the comedy wasn't working, but I wondered why they considered it funny. I couldn't speak English then, so I didn't know what was happening. But the scene stuck in my memory.
Last year, I happened to talk with a young black, British man in Japan. I said to him, "I thought you were an American. You speak very clearly. I didn't know any British people in the U.S., but now I've met a few in Japan. I'm surprised to find them very vague in the way they communicate. British are more like Japanese." I was all ears to what he said. I thought because he was a minority in England, maybe he could distance himself looking at own country and people. Besides, he seemed exceptionally clear in communicating ideas.
Then he said something like this: British tend to identify themselves with their possessions. I've thought about this on and off since then, and that comedy sketch of "That's mine!" finally made sense. This sounds perhaps too simplistic, and of course, Japanese children fight over their toys, too, but not as openly and as dry. If they do, that's because they are already deep into western cultures in my opinion.
Possessions are often articles. This matter seems related to the existence of articles in English language. Usually Japanese texts contain no spaces, and originally, no punctuations. And we own no plurals and of course, no articles. What am I leading this into?
I don't know exactly. But there is a dynamic force that is changing our way of thinking globally, and the internet is pushing many "the's" out, and more people seem to like small letter "the" instead of "The" in running texts. And I imagine a realistic scene right this minute: In a network café in Yokohama, Japanese kids are surfing the web and perhaps playfully shouting to their friends, "That's mine!" for whatever it is. If I were standing behind the kids, I would giggle.
The other day, I asked Aberjhani in Red Room a similar question as follows. If you were told that we will drop all the articles from the English language, what would you do? Aberjhani said Toni Morrison asked a similar question on adverbs.