With around 750,000 words, the English language is an amazing thing.
But we haven’t got around to finding names for everything just yet. For example, what do you call those chunks of snow gunk that build up in your car’s wheel wells in winter? Or that part of your golf swing where you realize that you’re going to shank it a millisecond before the club strikes the ball?
About a year ago, I was working on a radio show that studied how various bands had come up with their names. However, this particular area of academia didn’t have a name. While the study of words is called etymology and the investigation of name origins is known as onomatology, there was nothing that described the study of how, say, a group of Irish high school kids eventually became known as U2.
Looking to secure immortality by placing a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, I consulted Dr. Sheila Embleton, a professor of linguistics at York University in Toronto and a member of The American Name Society. Then I talked to Marc Hershon, who operates Simmer Branding in Sausalito, Calif., the guy who helped come up with the name “Swiffer” for Proctor & Gamble. With their help, we came up with a name that satisfied our needs.
Hereafter, the study of the origins of the names of musical groups shall be known was bandomynology.
Since then, I’ve run across certain other music-related things which need names:
>> The impatience that comes with the obligatory screaming and clapping between a performer’s main set and the encore. Why do they make fans do that?
>> The annoyance you feel when a band that’s been your special secret suddenly becomes popular.
>> The kind of person that still frequents record stores and actually buys CDs.
>> Speaking of which, we need a name for the feeling you get when you discover a CD or piece of vinyl that you’ve spent years searching for. Hardcore music collectors know exactly what I mean.
>> People who insist on wearing gigantic studio-sized headphones while listening to their MP3 players in public. (If you’re reading this on public transit, look around. You’ll see at least one.)
>> The sudden realization that you’ve just irretrievably lost all your music through a hard drive crash.
>> Any thoughts? E-mail me so we can enrich the English language with our, er, onomastic wisdom.
– The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on stations across Canada. Read the Music Geek blog at www.ongoinghistory.com