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raymondaliasapollyon
Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2021 10:44:11 PM
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Joined: 7/14/2020
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Hi,

In the dictionary, the verb "tango" is typically defined as "to dance the tango." On the other hand, the verb "waltz" is typically defined as "to dance a waltz." Why is the definite article used in one but an indefinite article used in the other?

I'd appreciate your help.

FounDit
Posted: Saturday, February 27, 2021 10:52:27 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
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raymondaliasapollyon wrote:
Hi,

In the dictionary, the verb "tango" is typically defined as "to dance the tango." On the other hand, the verb "waltz" is typically defined as "to dance a waltz." Why is the definite article used in one but an indefinite article used in the other?

I'd appreciate your help.


It can be either one for waltz, because there are several types of a waltz. But you can also speak of how to dance the waltz, when you are speaking of that style of dance as a group noun.
tautophile
Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2021 12:15:14 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/2018
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You can dance "a" tango or "a" waltz, and you can dance "the" tango and "the" waltz too. But why you usually use "the" with tango and "a" with waltz may have something to do with the fact that there are (I beli4ve) a number of ways of dancing a waltz, but (I suppose) only one of dancing a tango.* Certainly there are many more waltzes than tangos in Western music. Are there any choreographers out there who could enlighten us? What it comes down to, though, is idiomatic usage.

* Waltzes became popular in the early and mid 19th century and remain popular today. They are typically in triple or 3/4 time, but are not confined to it. The best known waltz composers were the Strausses, especially Johann Strauss Jr (the Waltz King).

** There are in fact a number of styles of tango; the dance originated in South America in the late 1800s and early 1900s and became very popular in the early 20th century. It's typically in 4/4 time, and has a beat of 4-4-4-88-4-4-4-rr, where 4 represents a quarter note, 88 represents two eighth notes, and rr represents two eighth rests (according to the Wikipedia entry for "Tango").
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