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January 22, 2013
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@John Everyman - How about Greenland? It's anything but verdant, even though it was purposely named that to interest potential settlers. Or the fact that, despite all our sixth-grade science classes, we still call meteors "shooting stars" when we see them streak through the sky?
Other misnomers occur when a word's definition goes out of vogue, e.g. French fries. The original phrase "French fried" referred to a method of deep-frying, not the literal country in Europe. French fries may be a *misnomer*, as Belgium continues to lay claim to their invention; and if that's true, it's a *misconception* that they're actually French in origin.
Using "the" again depends on context. "Blues" and "the blues" mean the same thing. But while "simple music" is a vague description, "the simple music" tells you that the speaker has a category of genres in his mind. For your dad, that category includes blues.
"Play me the simple music" (meaning blues) - the speaker is actually renaming the genre, so it's a misnomer.
"I listen to simple music, such as blues" - the speaker is just describing the style, so it's a misconception.
To you or me as musicians, blues isn't simple at all. But to a non-playing listener, those styles generate a "simpler", more laid-back reaction than rap or symphony. That's why people persist in calling it simple - they're describing their reaction, not the genre.
Yes, it is pretty generic (as I said, it's not a completely accurate substitution). You probably wouldn't say "I like African-inspired music" when you mean blues unless you're speaking to someone who's never heard of blues. But you definitely wouldn't say "simple" because it's probably not going to conjure up a genre set in your listener's mind at all.
This is where grammar's lines sort of fizzle and make way for semantics. No single person decides what's specific enough; you get to decide it for yourself, based on your conversation's context and on how well your listener will understand your meaning. It's the usage, not the words themselves, that categorize something as descriptive, nominative, or useless to your meaning.
Ha, and "Running Deer" is a lousy name for a fat kid playing video games, too, but it happens. It's a misnomer, but who's thinking of grammar when they name their children?
Chuckles - that's just called a nice lady! "Misnomer" conveys the idea of a mistake, though, not a term of endearment. If your name was Bob and she kept forgetting and calling you Bill instead, that would be a misnomer.
Mr Blues, a description becomes a word when it could feasibly take the place of a word, whether or not it's an accurate substitution. "I like simple music" and "I like blues" don't convey remotely similar meanings, because one is a generic description (could apply to nursery rhymes, ballads, humming, even?) and one is a pretty clear noun. "I like African-inspired music", while not a perfectly accurate substitution, in theory could be swapped for "blues", so it's a description that can pass for a term.
To say that blues is "simple music" is a misconception, while, say, "rap" is certainly a misnomer for blues.
Hope that helps!
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