Friday August 13, 2004

ROM or the ROM?

Q. Pheevr over at A Roguish Chrestomathy posts about the apparently obligatory usage of the definite article with the abbreviated name of the Royal Ontario Museum:

The answer, as any red-blooded, smog-breathing Hogtownite will readily confirm, is "the ROM," with the definite article. (If you haven't got a red-blooded, smog-breathing Hogtownite handy, you can confirm it yourself by visiting the ROM's web site. The real question is, why is it "the ROM"?

I believe I have an explanation.

If a speaker said only ROM, without the definite article, the listener would most likely understand the speaker to be referring to the early-80's action figure and Marvel comic book hero ROM: Spaceknight. This occurs because, in most everyday situations, ROM (the Spaceknight) is a much more salient concept than the ROM (some museum in Hogtown, which is a remote village in Outer Canadia).

[Now playing: "Human Behavior" by Bjork]

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
12:54 PM in Linguistics | Submit: | Links:

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c88ad53ef00d83465dd5169e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference ROM or the ROM?:

Comments

Or maybe it might get mistaken for Read-Only Memory...

Posted by: agm at Aug 13, 2004 2:27:27 PM

I'm with agm on this as that is immediately what came to mind when I saw your post title.

Posted by: Blinger at Aug 13, 2004 3:35:39 PM

Funny, even with the definite article, the Marvel Comics character was the first thing I thought of when I saw this post. But then, ROM was my favorite comic book back then (not to say I read it long enough to find out if he ever got his body back before the book was canceled).

Posted by: Semantic Compositions at Aug 13, 2004 4:05:46 PM

"If a speaker said only ROM, without the definite article, the listener would most likely understand the speaker to be referring to the early-80's action figure and Marvel comic book hero ROM: Spaceknight. This occurs because, in most everyday situations, ROM (the Spaceknight) is a much more salient concept than the ROM (some museum in Hogtown, which is a remote village in Outer Canadia)."

You are SUCH a geek.

*The* Wife

Posted by: The Wife at Aug 14, 2004 11:12:36 AM