July 28, 2005

The The, the The The, and The Who

In my last post, I mentioned the music group The The, which I sometimes call the The The. I thought nobody else did, but I was wrong to think I was alone. 

Note that the triple definite description isn't totally mad. For instance, The The afficionados wouldn't bat an eyelid at me saying my The The album,  whereas my The album is completely wrong. In some sense, the first The of The The is part of the group's name.

It doesn't necessarily follow that you should refer to the group in question as the The The, any more than you should refer to this blog as the Language Log. It's just Language Log. So plain old The The also seems logical. But the The The should come up sometimes. First you could legitimately refer to my The The LP as the The The LP that David owns. And second, sometimes people do put an extra definite determiner before a band name starting with The. It's hard to be sure, but I suppose that sometimes this is intentional. Here are some Google examples (my emphasis added):

The opening exhibit will include music by the The Dunes, a Bay Area-based band that plays a variety of North African Rai, Chaabi, and Berber music combined ...

With music by the The Revolution Crew.

Video music by the The Notre Dame des Bananes Choir from their 1997 CD "Ripe For Revolution".

The event will also feature hors d oeuvres, a no-host bar and 50s music by the The Bendover Sisters of the Silver Valley.

with callers Roger Alexander and Marcia Minear and live music by the The Good Old Way

At a press conference in New York City today, the The Who announced the details of its new album, The Blues To The Bush

If adding an extra the is a standard (though dispreferred) usage, it should be no surprise if we sometimes find the The The. And indeed the MSN music site obligingly tries to sell us:

The Singles Of The The by The The The

OK, so that one might have been automatically generated. But I also found many others, including (my emphasis, again):

1961 Matt Johnson of the The The born

One of the The The highlights is "Armageddon Days".

I went to two of The The The concerts, one in Boston at Great Woods

In my opinion the best of the The The incarnations.

May all the rest of the The The's lunatic fringe fill your in box with rude words

Jumping onto the band name wagon with another post, Mark took issue not with the number of definites, but with the capitalization of the prefinal one: he prescribes the The or the the The, and cites as evidence the band's logo. Logos are created with artistic license, and not necessarily intended as indicators of preferred usage, but still, I'll admit this as potential counterevidence to my double capitalized usage.

But what, you may ask, does our friend Norma Loquendi have to say about the issue? Capitalization of definite articles in rock group names is quite variable, but Norma is pretty clear on this one. For many classic bands with definites, lower case is mildly preferred, but for The The, writers couldn't care less about the logo, and uniformly prefer capitalization of the prefinal the. Here's the results of taking the first 50 Google occurrences of "Matt Johnson of * The" where * = "the" or "The", and similarly for other groups.

Search string
% the out of total the or The
Matt Johnson of * The
Roger Daltry of * Who
Eric Burdon of * Animals 60
Paul McCartney of * Beatles
Brian Wilson of * Beach Boys
Jerry Garcia of * Grateful Dead

For whatever reason, Norma dislikes The Grateful Dead, though she is quite fond of the Grateful Dead. On the other hand, she greatly prefers The Who to the Who. And, like me, she can't stand the The. We are both die-hard fans of The The. Or the The The. Or even, as in a couple of tokens above, The The The.

Posted by David Beaver at July 28, 2005 12:12 AM