I have been wondering for some time why the folks at KFAN keep dropping the “the” when referring the Metrodome, such as when Paul Allen introduces his Vikings broadcast by saying “Welcome to Metrodome” rather than “Welcome to the Metrodome.”
I’d first noticed the British habit of dropping the “the” during BBC news broadcasts where the anchors would say, for example, a student was “at university” or a victim was “at hospital.” Then, maybe two years ago, I noticed the phenomenon make it’s way into the mouths of American anchors at 24 hour cable news outlets like CNN. Well, they’re trying to sound cosmopolitan, I thought.
It makes a certain amount of sense for CNN to adopt the habit, especially if they are positioning some of their content for a European or global audience. But when sportsguys on KFAN start doing it, it just sounds like a) they’re mindless copycats, or b) they’re trying too hard.
So today, P.A. and Dubay did a bit on the subject prompted by a letter from a listener taking them to task for dropping the “the.” P.A., to his credit, believed that the letter writer was correct. Jeff Dubay, on the other hand, was derisive and dismissive of the letter writer, saying flatly that he was wrong.
Sorry, Dubay: You’re wrong. According to Wikipedia:
A few “institutional” nouns take no definite article when a certain role is implied: for example, at sea [as a sailor], in prison [as a convict]. Among this group, Commonwealth English has in hospital [as a patient] and at university [as a student], where American English requires in the hospital and at the university. (A nurse, visitor, etc. would be in the hospital in both systems.) On the other hand, American English distinguishes in back of [behind] from in the back of; the former is unknown in Britain and liable to misinterpretation as the latter. Both however distinguish in front of from in the front of.