It’s not exactly a beach read, but I just finished a fascinating book called Reading the OED by Ammon Shea, who spent a year reading all 21,730 pages of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Along the way I learned such wonderful un-spellcheck-friendly words as acnestis (the point on your back you can’t reach to scratch), cacchinator (a person who laughs too much) and keck (the sound you make just before you vomit).
As a writer, I am fond of words — so fond, in fact, that I invented one once. Or at least I helped.
The study of words is called etymology. If you study the origin of the names, that’s called onomastics. Exploring the origins of place names is toponymy. And if you’re interested in working out the origins of personal names, you’re engaged in anthroponomastics.
While working on a radio documentary about the origins of band names, I found that there was no such word for that field of mateotechny (an unprofitable science).
This was unconscionable. Many books have been written about how bands got their names. How could this discipline itself be nameless? I decided to consult some real onomasticians.
I called Dr. Sheila Embleton, a professor of linguistics at York University. She consulted some of her word-wise colleagues around the world, including Mark Hershon, whose team invented such brand names as BlackBerry, OnStar, Swiffer and Febreze.
After some conference calls, the learned word boffins came back to me with their conclusions. No, they confirmed, the English language did not feature a word that described the study of the origins of band names.
And yes, they had come up with a solution. Academic investigations into the origins of band names or those adopted for professional purposes by musical performers shall forever be known as bandomynology.
This means that whenever you explain the roots of the name Black Sabbath (taken from the name of a 1963 Boris Karloff film), Green Day (a term describing a day spent smoking joints) or Foo Fighters (from the French feu and relating to a Second World War squadron of UFO-chasing pilots), you’re engaged in bandomynology.
The latest online version of the OED is currently being edited. To get bandomynology included, it has to appear in print (like this) and preferably used by other people in academic and/or everyday contexts.
Help a guy out, won’t you?