Spreading the Word on a Musical Term

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.

Read more…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Spreading the Word on a Musical Term

  • August 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    With your time off maybe you should take up teaching…. bandomynology!
    I'd go back to school for that


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