Below is a query from Garrett Wollman, which I'm putting up as a guest post for LL readers to answer. For some background on the (an)arthrous terminology, see e.g.
"Syntax under pressure", 8/28/2007
"(An)arthrous abbreviations", 9/17/2007
"Language Log is strong", 9/16/2007
"Language Log only pretty strong", 9/30/2007
"Anarthrous irony", 3/27/2010
"'The' culture war", 12/16/2010
"BofA goes anarthrous in the Bay Area", 4/27/2011
Recently on alt.usage.english, contributor "Navi" asked:
Which is correct:
1-I saw THE "3:10 to Yuma" with Glenn Ford, not the remake with Christian Bale.
2-I saw "3:10 to Yuma" with Glenn Ford, not the remake with Christian Bale.
Interestingly, some respondents (myself included) considered both sentences acceptable, some others said that form (1) was only acceptable in informal speech (with the implication being that some words, such as "version of", were elided), and a few said that (1) was not acceptable at all.
After the thread had drifted a bit, as they do, I brought up the issue of anarthrous band names, and in particular the existence of some bands who insist on being anarthrous even though our natural intuition wants the definite article there, and many radio announcers (e.g.) will stick it in. Any intuition (or better yet, any evidence) on this one? Here's what I wrote:
A quick rundown of some anarthrous band names with plural morphology:
10,000 Maniacs, Agents of Good Roots, Barenaked Ladies*, BoDeans*, Broken Bells, Counting Crows*, Cowboy Junkies*, Crash Test Dummies*, Damn Yankees, Dire Straits, Dixie Chicks*, Finn Brothers*, Foo Fighters*, Grey Eye Glances, Guns N' Roses, Hooters*, Indigo Girls*, Knots and Crosses, Los Lonely Boys, Men at Work, New Radicals*, Primitive Radio Gods, Psychedelic Furs*, Red Hot Chili Peppers*, Scars on 45, Simple Minds, Smashing Pumpkins*, Spice Girls*, Stone Temple Pilots, Talking Heads*, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins* (not actually twins and not named Thompson).
I've marked with an asterisk the ones that frequently get the definite article added; my intuition is that it's only used when the band name could plausibly refer to its members.
Of course, there's also the issue that I can only go by what's written on the label — and sometimes these are different from one album to the next, suggesting that in at least some cases this is simply a matter of the packaging designer's preference.
For comparison I also included a list of bands whose names include the definite article (I didn't find any in my library with indefinite articles, although I know that some exist), this time with both plural and singular forms:
The Alarm, The Bangles, The Big Wu, The Black Crowes, The Bobs, The Chieftains, The Church, The Clash, The Corrs, The Cranberries, The Cure, The Damnwells, The Decemberists, The Dream Academy, The Heights, The Jam, The Jayhawks, The Lumineers, The Mama & The Papas, The Outfield, The Police, The Romantics, The Soup Dragons, The Sundays, The The, The Thorns, The Vanity Project (not actually a band), The Wailin' Jennys, The Wallflowers, The Waterboys, The Why Store, The Wingdale Community Singers, The XX, The Zombies.
[Above is a guest post by Garrett Wollman]