[Foundation-l] Why "Wikipedia" and not "the Wikipedia"?

Ziko van Dijk zvandijk at googlemail.com
Sat Jun 27 17:16:40 UTC 2009

When I look into Duden Die Grammatik, this authoritative reference
work about German grammar says that proper names (Angela, Berlin,
Christmas) don't get an article: "Hamburg liegt an der Elbe." But it
mentions many exceptions, like for rivers who actually do get an
article (such as "die Elbe"). An article you use also for institutions
("die UNO") and works ("der Wallenstein", "das Ave Verum").
So what is "Wikipedia", an institution, a work, a proper name? In
German texts I find a lot of inconsequences, sometimes in one sentence
there is "die Wikipedia" an then again "Wikipedia". I believed that
that has to do with the context: "I am registered at Wikipedia"
(institution), and "I have written something in the Wikipedia" (work).
But this does not fit with my actual findings. Then I thought that
"Wikipedia" without article is an anglicism, but it seems not to be
that easy, too.
What else do we compare (the) Wikipedia with, except for other
encyclopedias? A web site like Google? A social movement like
And how about "Wikimedia"? In a short corpus I studied the reporter
said "Wikimedia e.V." in German, although I say "die Wikimedia". In
English, is it "the Wikimedia"? "The Foundation"? "The Wikimedia
Kind regards,
your confused

2009/6/27 Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton at gmail.com>:
> 2009/6/27 Michael Snow <wikipedia at verizon.net>:
>> Ziko van Dijk wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>> Could someone explain to me why "Wikipedia" is without definite
>>> article? In English you say "the Britannica", so why not "the
>>> Wikipedia"? I am wondering that also in German Wikipedians and
>>> non-Wikipedians tend to drop the article, although we say "der
>>> Brockhaus".
>> Actually, singular proper nouns commonly do not take the definite
>> article in English. I would not say "the Britannica" anymore than I
>> would say "the Wikipedia" (or, as noted, "the Encarta"). This particular
>> case may indicate a difference between British and American English
>> here, I'm guessing from the other comments.
>> There are some situations where you would use the definite article for
>> singular proper nouns, such as with some geographical names, or when the
>> name is actually a combination of common and proper nouns. Thus, I might
>> refer to "the Encyclopedia Britannica" because it's "the encyclopedia"
>> and "Britannica" identifies which encyclopedia I mean.
> I agree with you, and I speak British English. I would say "the
> Encyclopaedia Britannica" (NB. the middle word has two a's. As
> suggested by the final word, it is (originally) a British thing, so
> takes the British spelling, which has two a's [or an "æ" if you want
> to be pedantic].). I would, however, say "Britannica" not "the
> Britannica".
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Ziko van Dijk

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