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(although, indeed, we use the article in original Spanish: "la Argentina".)

But that's an artifact of Spanish, just as "la France" is an artifact of French.

I am not sure that I understand what "artefact" means in this context?
Anyway, in Spanish the definite article is now only compulsory where it is thought to be a part of the name (El Salvador, la República Dominicana, el Reino Unido...and of course if the name is modified, the article is usual. This seems to be somewhat similar to situations I have encountered in English ("the beautiful England of yesteryear" and "la España hermosa de antaño") It seems to me that in French the use of the article with countries is less flexible and of more recent origins (in Spanish - and in English - the reverse process seems to have occurred: for example, in old French it would be "France" and in more recent French "la France", whereas in old Spanish "la Francia" was common, whereas nowadays it is simply "Francia"); for whatever reason, the definite article is now far more usual with the names of countries in French than in Spanish, where it is optional in many instances.
So: in Spanish the article with "Argentina" is not often used (except in Argentina itself) by writers, but still sometimes in conversation.
But that's an artifact of Spanish, just as "la France" is an artifact of French.

I am not sure that I understand what "artefact" means in this context?

Something that's forced by the structure of the language, rather than being a property of the name. That is, every country name has an article in French, therefore the presence of the article has no significance.

That's not entirely true, though. If you address a letter in French, you don't put an article in front of the country name. In that situation the article is used only if the article is formally a part of the name of the country.
(And perhaps not even then. I think you'd write "États-Unis" in an address, rather than "les États-Unis".)

Peter Moylan, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. http://www.pmoylan.org For an e-mail address, see my web page.
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"Peter Moylan" wrote >>
I am not sure that I understand what "artefact" means in >> this context?

Something that's forced by the structure of the language, rather than being a property of the name. That is, every country name has an article in French, therefore the presence of the article has no significance.

Yes, I see. (Except perhaps with countries which are also islands? And Israël.)
It seems, then, that in English (and certainly in Spanish, perhaps by adoption of the English norm) the tendency is to abandon the article with the names of countries (whereas in French, except after 'en', the reverse is true)?
(>>But "thankyou" would be correct as a noun? Or an >>adjective?) "tony cooper" wrote

No, it is not correct. Not in any circumstances. It is always written "thank you".

No. Thankyou doesn't exist.

Thank you for your replies, but I am a little puzzled by them. According to the Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, ... of thanks. It gives several examples of "thankyou" and "thank-you" and does not suggest that such a usage is sub-standard.

Chambers may not think "thankyou" is sub-standard, but any American reading something you've written using "thankyou" is either a typo (forgot to hit the space key) or that you are a non-native-speaker of English.
I would read "thank-you note" and "thank you note" as the same. The hyphenated version may be the more correct, but I wouldn't feel that omitting it is an error.
We also send - or used to send - "bread-and-butter notes".

Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
The U.K. and The U.S.A.

The Commonwealth of Australia. (We have wandered into The State of Déjà Vu.)

One doesn't say The Australia nor does one say United Kingdom is nice, one says THE united Kingdom
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One doesn't say The Australia nor does one say United Kingdom is nice, one says THE united Kingdom

But one does say "The Commonwealth", not "Commonwealth".

"United Kingdom" is analogous to "Commonwealth". One applies "the" to what precedes the "of", but not to what follows it.
So one says "The Commonwealth of Australia" but not "the Australia"

and one says "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" but not "the Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Forty years ago South Africa used to be called "The Republic", because it was the only republic within a thousand miles. But now it's surrounded by republics and surrounds a kingdom. It was never, however, called "the South Africa" though it did have a "homeland" called "the Transkei", and has provinces called "the Western Cape", "the Eastern Cape" and "the Free State".

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
Web: http://hayesfam.bravehost.com/stevesig.htm
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E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
One doesn't say The Australia nor does one say United Kingdom is nice, one says THE united Kingdom

But one does say "The Commonwealth", not "Commonwealth". "United Kingdom" is analogous to "Commonwealth". One applies "the" to what precedes ... have a "homeland" called "the Transkei", and has provinces called "the Western Cape", "the Eastern Cape" and "the Free State".

And when was the last time anybody refered to Oz as "the Commonwealth" outside od anal formality.
And when was the last time anybody refered to Oz as "the Commonwealth" outside od anal formality.

On 4th December 2009.

Regards
John
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at tpg dot com dot au
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