Linguistic terminology or band name?

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This quiz is unfairly difficult: "Linguistics or band name?", lingBuzzFeed 4/20/2015.

Any quiz of the form "X or band name?" is going to be hard, because there are at least tens of thousands of band names, so that even if you know that "Semantic Saturation" is a term from psycholinguistics, how would you be sure that it was also a "three-member American progressive Rock Metal band"? And how would you know that nobody had ever started a band called "Harmonic Serialism"? (The quiz says not, but I wonder…)

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  1. Emily said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 3:45 pm

    Nice to know that The Penthouse Principle is not taken as a band name.

    Conversely, I would rather like to see "Ugly Duckling" adopted as a linguistic term. It would go nicely with Pied Piping.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 4:35 pm

    When we create the electronic files for our ABC dictionaries at the University of Hawaii Press, we use a programming method called "band format", so in one sense "band" is a linguistic term.

    But this has nothing to do with a band called The Format.

  3. maidhc said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

    There was also a band called The Ugly Ducklings that was popular in Toronto in the 1960s.

    It would make a good linguistic term though.

  4. Neal Goldfarb said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 7:02 pm

    I've always thought that "The Extended Now" would be a good band name.

    "Aktionsart" would be good, too. For a Kraut-rock band, of course.

  5. Mark Liberman said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

    Simple phonological terms would often be surprisingly good band names: Onset, Coda, Stop, Liquid, Implosive, Labial. Or for more intellectual bands, Dissimilation, Apocope, …

  6. Chas Belov said,

    May 3, 2015 @ 9:21 pm

    I like the drug or Pokemon challenge at It's surprisingly difficult.

  7. Eric Baković said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 12:22 am

    I've played in bands with linguistics-inspired band names such as The Floating Tones, Sloppy Identity, and The Headless Relatives. Other names I came up with at one point or another were:

    The Determiners
    Pointing Fingers
    The Biolinguistic Enterprise
    Big PRO and the Controllers
    Mora! Mora! Mora!
    Functional Pressure
    John loves Mary
    The Kernel
    Richness of the Base (or, of course, Bass)
    Internal Reconstruction
    Snowclone Eggcorn
    The Projection Principle
    Count Erbleeding and the Opaque Derivation
    Strict Cyclicity
    D.C.S. (= Discrete Combinatorial System)
    Basic Alternant and the Allomorphs

  8. Rubrick said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 4:53 am

    I'm partial to Geoff Pullum and the Comments, myself.

  9. J.W. Brewer said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 6:37 am

    This quiz is also trickier than some because of having a "both" option, which makes educated guessing rather more challenging. To some extent, the vague/unbounded nature of "band name" is duplicated on the other side, because sometimes individual linguistics scholars coin new technical terms in a particular book or article, and sometimes these catch on and become standard or at least well-known in the relevant subfield and . . . sometimes they don't.

  10. Emily said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 10:21 am

    In a similar vein is this short list of ideas for linguistic-themed Halloween costumes:

  11. bratschegirl said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

    Rubrick FTW!

  12. D.O. said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 12:37 pm

    "Harmonic Serialism" could be a sub-genre of classical music. But I fear it would be either impossible or banal.

  13. Robot Therapist said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 6:01 pm

    I think Eric wins with The Headless Relatives!

  14. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 6:25 pm

    Eric Baković: "The Headless Relatives" is pretty hard to top.

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 4, 2015 @ 6:26 pm

    (Must remember to refresh.)

  16. lolphonology said,

    May 5, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

    I believe this is apropos:

  17. Lance said,

    May 5, 2015 @ 4:18 pm

    I'm partial to Geoff Pullum and the Comments, myself.

    Yeah, my band opened for them once, but I prefer to think that the Comments closed for me.

    As far as Ugly Duckling goes, are we sure it's not a linguistics term? Searching the web turns up as the first hit this Amazon page: . It's a romance novel called The Ugly Duckling Debutante, and is apparently Book 99 in the Cambridge Studies in Linguistics.

  18. David Donnell said,

    May 7, 2015 @ 2:26 am

    Just discussing the various pronunciations of my home state, Missouri, with a woman from back home.

    Her rejoinder: "Nonstressed Terminating Vowel is my favorite progressive rock band, yo."

  19. David Donnell said,

    May 7, 2015 @ 2:28 am

    Just discussing the various pronunciations of my home state, Missouri, with a woman from back home.

    Her rejoinder: "Nonstressed Terminating Vowel is my favorite progressive rock band, yo."


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