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File under A

Posted in Personal by Will on Sunday, August 19th, 2007 ~ 3pm

Why do I alphabetize movies that begin with “A” (as in “A Beautiful Mind”) in the “A”s? Because unlike “The”, “A” is a powerful word.*

Consider this:

Both of these terms are grammatically correct:

The House
The Houses

In the above examples, the word “The” is nearly superfluous, because the power is in the word that comes AFTER “The”. Therefore any movies that begin with “The” are filed under the word that follows “The”.

Then consider this:

A House
A Houses

If “A” was as superflous as “The”, then both of those terms would be gramatically correct. But one of them is not correct (“A Houses”) because the power lies in the “A”, and the word that follows “A” must agree with the condition that “A” set down.

Therefore, I feel comfortable filing movies that begin with “A”, such as “A Beautiful Mind”, under “A”.

Oh yes, I blog about simple things.

*I’ve been out of school too long to remember what exactly “The” and “A” are called. I am sure words such as this have a name.

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  1. Ben said,

    on August 20th, 2007 at 1:09 am

    “a” and “the” are articles of speech. “a” is an indefinite article because when you reference “a house”, it could be any house. “the” is a definite article because “the house” is that specific house.

    Would you place the Who under W or T? Most of the time a title is listed under the non-article letter, it’s because the article is superfluous. If you referred to the film “Beautiful Mind”, most people wouldn’t know the difference between that and “A Beautiful Mind”. On the other hand, if you said you were listening to “who”, most people would answer “Yes, that’s what I’m asking,” like Abbot and Costello, because the “the” is necessary to point out it’s titular nature.

  2. Will said,

    on August 20th, 2007 at 2:27 am

    I hadn’t given any thought to proper names, but I believe I’d be governed by the same rules as titles — I’d disregard “The” but I would keep “A”.

    Checking my racks, I don’t see many bands beginning with “The” to check. The Old ’97s are filed under Rhett Miller because I like his solo work better than his band work. The Replacements are similarly filed among Paul Westerberg’s solo albums since Paul continues to record. …Ah, here’s one: The Jesus and Mary Chain — a band that actually printed the “The” on their album covers (unlike the Pixies, who were simply Pixies) — are filed under J. And The Lemonheads are under L (and for the moment Evan Dando is mixed in with the Lemonheads…but if Evan Dando becomes prolific he may break out into his own section, and eventually subsume The Lemonheads!).

    So we agree on “The” being superfluous, at least in filing.

    But if a band began with “A”, like “A Certain Ratio” (I’ve never heard them), I’d file it under “A”, not “C”. Would you?

    “My Bloody Valentine” (I like them) would stay under “My”.

    “Our Chemical Romance” (I’ve never heard them) under “Our”.

    I’d also file “50 Foot Wave” under “F”, as if “50” were spelled “Fifty”.

    Bands whose names are made entirely of punctuation marks, I’d… I have no $%@(# idea where I’d file them.

    You’ve worked at radio stations, where would the above all go?

    Back to movies for a related question: La Femme Nikita — under F or L? A good argument could be made that it should be under F, because la le les and l’ are just the French version of “the” (with the added bonus of endowing inanimate objects with gender, too, in case you wanted to breed them). I found La Femme Nikita today in my own collection under L. But I’m not sure it will stay there. I think it should be under F.

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