a minor linguistic conundrum

So, know that band A Minor Forest?

Anytime I've heard them referred to orally, and I've probably only discussed them with a few friends, we've said the "A" in the band name like a schwa sound, because obviously it's an article modifying "Minor Forest," right?


When we were mixing on Sunday, we were talking for whatever reason about bands we're compared to -- I think I had told the story of the girl in D.C. who approached me after we played to tell us it was really great and that she was a huge Don Cab fan her freshman year of college (I wasn't sure how to respond to this) -- and Steve mentioned A Minor Forest. But he made the "A" at the beginning of the name like a long "A" sound (as in "neighbor" and "weigh" . . . oh wait . . .). At the time I just chalked it up to a weird pronunciation habit and/or a special effort to not accidentally call them "Off Minor Forest."

I just thought about it again, though, and it occurred to me that, in fact, he was probably conceptualizing the name as "A Minor (as in the key) Forest." A forest in the key of A minor. I never once thought about it that way. Is that how it's "supposed" to be said?

The ambiguity recalls a post on Language Log about the pronunciation of "the" and a tangent about its pronunciation in band names (and the use of "thee," as in "Thee Speaking Canaries."

Register your votes. Or tell me the right way to say it. Or don't bother, just think about how interesting it is that two people can have two totally different concepts of a phrase's meaning and pronunciation based on their personal background.


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