Menu
Share
 
Switch to Desktop Site

Earworms and the 'mononymous' phenomenon

Doing a spell-check on a pop singer's name, the Monitor's language columnist is reminded how writers can get words, as well as music, 'stuck' in their ears.

About these ads

Hey, Beyoncé, do you know what they're calling you over at Wikipedia? "Mononymous." No kidding.

I was looking to confirm the acute accent on the pop singer's final "e" the other day. In the process, I learned that her unusual name comes from her mother's maiden name and was disabused of my vague notion that it is a portmanteau for "beyond ."

But what's this "mononymous"? Wikipedia has a whole long article that begins, "A mononymous person is an individual who is known and addressed by a mononym, or 'single name,' " and then goes on to mention people as diverse as Cicero, Napoleon, and – Beyoncé.

One can imagine a convention of Mononymous Anonymous. The Classical Division – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle – would be so busy disputing among themselves they wouldn't see they were blocking the hors d'oeuvres. The Great Painters Division – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Titian – would all gravitate to the north-facing windows. And the 21st-Century Entertainment Division would each expect to be the center of attention, as only a 21st-century mononymous person can.

I could also imagine Oprah trying to get Socrates as a guest on one of her talk shows, and then seeing the deal founder when Socrates insists on asking all the questions.

Next

Page:   1   |   2


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Loading...