Date: Tue, 6 Feb 1996 23:55:54 EST


Subject: Re: conjoined names

Lynne complains:

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.