Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 23:55:54 EST
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: conjoined names
i think we're just getting silly when we try to find linguistic
reasons for conjoined names. while entertainers and new companies
might decide on order according to what sounds nicer, there are going
to be too many other absolutely-non-linguistic factors involved. for
example, i grew up upstairs from parker, rayfield and murphy funeral
home. the only reason it's called that is because murphy bought it
from rayfield who bought it from parker (who founded it). same is
going to be true of law firms and stock-broking (brokering?)
companies. things like "sears and roebuck" might be determined by who
put in more money.
Well, yes, but I'm not sure we're being MUCH sillier here than we are when we
try to fing linguistic reasons for anything else; it is our occupational
disease, after all, and who likes a null hypothesis? We do have to
acknowledge that there are independent (e.g. temporal-priority) factors
involved, and it's precisely when those factors are overridden or can be
controlled for that the interesting linguistic variables emerge.
i do like the "straight wo/man" first theory in comedy. but it
doesn't work for "laurel and hardy", but it might explain "the
captain and tennille". in fact, that one goes against the "singer
first" rule that i think was proposed--as might "ike and tina turner"
(did ike sing?), and arguably "sonny and cher".
And Peter, Paul, and Mary. And Delaney and Bonnie. And Donny and Marie.
so, i think when we get to people, the rules fall apart. score one
for free will?
To paraphrase the title of the Ike and Tina movie, What's Free Will Got to
Do With It? I'm afraid the ordering votes tend to be weighted.
P.S. It was indeed Tom and Dick Smothers. Straight man second, but I wonder
whether Tom, Dick & Harry may have played a role.