I was reading a novel (The Stranger) that included the usage, “...speaking the French.”; another (Radio Free Albemuth) included, “We were listening to an LP of the Jefferson Airplane at that moment.”
I would have omitted “the” in both cases, or extended them to their full expression: “the French tongue/language”, “the rock band Jefferson Airplane”.
I can’t see their decisions as purposefully colloquial, or as an intended stylistic tool. I suspect something larger is afoot - some dastardly rule.
(I’m also reminded of The Hague, which may or may not be related.)
Clearly I'm missing something. What?