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10 Marts 2008 @ 22:48
Observation, an  

If you are alphabetizing a list of, say, movie titles, the common practice of ignoring definite and indefinite articles is a sensible one. And, if you're ignoring the articles, then it does also make sense—and is also common practice—to shunt them off to the end, separated by a comma, so that the letters by which the title is being sorted are at the beginning, but the article is still recoverable by anyone who wants to know the full title.

It's just that sometimes it looks a little bit silly:

Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The
Nuværende humør: amusedamused
Nuværende musik: The, The
Oh, Snap!: My heart burns for you!kutsuwamushi on 11. Marts, 2008 03:01 (UTC)
It looks like the lyrics to one of those annoying childhood songs that go on forever. (... Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, The ... Russians are coming, the Russians are coming...)
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 11. Marts, 2008 03:36 (UTC)

For the first time in my life, I was genuinely tempted to use the <marquee> tag:

Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The

Prof. Bleen6_bleen_7 on 11. Marts, 2008 03:36 (UTC)
Applying that practice to the name of the band The The appears to do nothing but add a comma:

The, The

unless you keep careful track of which The appears first and which second—say, by color. Hence, The The is alphabetized as The, The.
Merle: lambdamerle_ on 11. Marts, 2008 13:01 (UTC)
I wonder how one would handle a band whose name was "The, The"? Would it become "The, The,"?
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 11. Marts, 2008 13:59 (UTC)

Or perhaps ", The, The"?

Actually, it occurs to me that the examples of article postposing that I have seen in the field are insufficient to determine whether the rule applies only to a single phrase-initial article, or to a whole phrase-initial sequence of articles, since there are so few examples of the latter. So maybe "The The" should actually become ", The The"?

Merle: lambdamerle_ on 11. Marts, 2008 16:03 (UTC)
I'm trying to think of non-contrived (eg proper names) examples of having more than one phrase-initial article in a row, but am failing. It doesn't seem valid (in English, at least).

No, wait: "You need an an rather than an a at the beginning of that sentence.". However, I would insist on quotes to disambiguate the meta-level articles from the rest of the sentence.
Prof. Bleen6_bleen_7 on 11. Marts, 2008 17:35 (UTC)
I took the second The to be referring to the word as such, in which case it wouldn't be considered an article (if I recall correctly). On the other hand, if that is so, it should be italicized—or not, if the entire name is italicized, e.g., The The.
Henrytahnan on 11. Marts, 2008 20:19 (UTC)
Perhaps an article titled "The The and the History of Progressive Rock" would have to be alphabetized as "and the History of Progressive Rock, The The"?
鉄観音isolt on 11. Marts, 2008 04:17 (UTC)
Off topically, is that you in your icon?
Q. Pheevr: Sir Loodabert Commaq_pheevr on 11. Marts, 2008 13:54 (UTC)

Nope. It's Matt Chapman dressed up as Sir Loodabert Comma, the eponymous (and notional) discoverer of the comma.

kchewkchew on 11. Marts, 2008 04:42 (UTC)
Funny conventions like this can turn otherwise boring indexes into hilarious reading.

Seen in the wild:

Birds, for the.
Q. Pheevr: Plaid god!q_pheevr on 11. Marts, 2008 14:03 (UTC)
  1. strength
  2. health
  3. aptitude
  4. zeal
  5. ox, power of
  6. ox, power of another
  7. money
Henrytahnan on 11. Marts, 2008 20:17 (UTC)
I forget who it was who observed--I recall it being Bridget Copley, but perhaps she was relating to me someone else's observation--that things like the coordinating conjunction constraint go out the window in an index. Thus, from the nearest cookbook to hand, index entries like:

   -Pecan Salad, Radicchio Leaves Filled with, 122
   Gratin of Garlic and, 370

(Deleted comment)
Henrytahnan on 12. Marts, 2008 03:37 (UTC)
English doesn't use articles?
(Deleted comment)
Henrytahnan on 12. Marts, 2008 04:37 (UTC)
It doesn't? "Je cherche la chaise" and "I am looking for the chair" have the same number of articles (i.e., one), as do the sentences in the other pair (i.e., one); and "the" is the most common word in the English language. (Four in the last sentence, not counting the ones in quotes.)

That's just the definite article; many languages, of course, don't have indefinite articles (e.g., Hebrew), to say nothing of languages that don't have (or don't require) either definite or indefinite articles (Japanese, Russian).
Q. Pheevr: Aéroport d'Orlyq_pheevr on 12. Marts, 2008 13:40 (UTC)

That is true. But the English, the articles, it does not use them in quite so many of the contexts as the French, hein?

(Deleted comment)
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 12. Marts, 2008 17:43 (UTC)

Actually, Mädchen is grammatically neuter. (The Mäd part is cognate with English maid, and -chen is a diminutive suffix. All words formed by adding -chen to another noun are neuter, regardless of the gender of the original noun.)

w1ldc47w1ldc47 on 13. Marts, 2008 02:15 (UTC)
Grammatical gender can lead to hilarious interlinguistic clashes. I'm reminded of the time, when I was taking a German class at McGill, that a francophone in the class asked, after an (IMO overly long) explanation of grammatical gender and how German has three of them and we anglophones just have to deal with that, whether neuter was masculine or feminine.
(Anonym) on 15. April, 2008 12:32 (UTC)
On the new Language Log, your blog is alphabetized under A, while earlier it was under R. At least they didn't go for Roguish Chrestomathy, A.
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 15. April, 2008 16:09 (UTC)

Ooh, now I'm closer to the top!

I'm guessing that the reincarnated Language Log's blogroll is alphabetized by a (not terribly sophisticated) computer program, while the original may have been built by hand (or perhaps sorted by an article-savvier program).