I was reading through a tutorial about an IT tool called Ansible and started wondering about the first language of the author, who tends to drop articles. Is it possible to guess a person's language from these characteristics?

Here are a couple of examples (from Ansible - YAML Basics):

YAML uses simple key-value pair to represent the data. The dictionary is represented in key: value pair.


You can also use abbreviation to represent dictionaries.


We can also represent List in YAML. Every element(member) of list should be written in a new line with same indentation starting with ...

These examples are perfectly understandable, but I feel they jar a bit - and I am curious about the writer's background.

  • 4
    Most languages articles don't work like English articles. Your examples use articles, but not quite the same as usual. As you say, one wonders about the writer's origins.
    – jlawler
    Mar 13, 2022 at 19:33
  • 5
    Lots of languages don’t have any articles at all – Russian, Chinese, Finnish, Japanese, Greenlandic, etc. You can’t really guess someone’s first language just based on them not having fully mastered articles and English definiteness. Mar 13, 2022 at 20:13
  • @JanusBahsJacquet You are right, of course, it just stirred my curiosity enough, I suppose.
    – j4nd3r53n
    Mar 14, 2022 at 7:38

1 Answer 1


The company is headquartered in Hyderabad, which increases the probability that the author speaks "some Indian language". Lack of articles is found in many of their tutorials. There could easily be dozens of "authors" who contributed to the article. In fact, this is a known feature of Indian English so not necessarily a reflection of the author's "first" language. See Hundt (2014) "Zero articles in Indian Englishes", who notes that "[t]he omission of articles where British or American English require either a definite or indefinite article is a typical feature of Indian English". So, one answer is, "English".

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