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The definite article in the Romance languages developed from the
demonstrative "ille" in Latin.  Latin had no definite articles.
But as spoken Latin evolved (while written Latin remained fixed to
a much greater degree) one tended to prefix substantives with
"ille".  I have a book, written as a doctoral dissertation in the 1920s,
about the use of ille and ipse and other demonstratives in Latin
in forms that evolved into the definite article.  It seems some of
the speakers who used it, like one pilgrim to the Holy Land, used
it more and more frequently in her letters as she excitedly told
about her experiences on some of the famous sacred mounts there.
 
Apparently saying "that" house, "that" mountain, made it more vivid
and immediate to her listener to whom she was writing.  That's how
the definite article began.
 
But I have to tell you how I react to sentences like:
 
>She has put the monies in the pockets. He shooke the head (meaning _his*_
head).
 
To a speaker of English it sounds like the pockets are detached from a
person, like the pockets of a coat hanging on a coat-hanger in a closet.
And "he shook the head" sounds like it's a disembodied head, found
sitting on the table, or maybe someone else's head that he grabbed.
But speaking this way does not link the head to the person doing the
shaking.  That's funny.
 
Stan Mulaik