I do not like you, ampersand…

I’m not sure why, but in the last few years I’ve come to dislike ampersands in most situations. This is odd, considering that I used to be somewhat fond of them. I suppose my change of mind here has something to do with two large database projects involving my music collection (first, entering them into a database; second, ripping them to iTunes) and the inconsistency in naming that ampersands seem to generate. (This is, by the way, a sub-rant of the larger rant whose main subject is People Who Do Not Know The Difference Between Graphic Design And Case Usage. It is also a sub-rant of If You’re Going To Submit A CD To An Online Database, Please Fucking Proofread.)

I will use three bands as examples. To start with the most problematic: Belle and Sebastian. Now, I can understand why some people want to put an ampersand there: in the cover art of roughly a third of their releases, there’s an ampersand in lieu of the and. However, that only means that on most their releases, the conjunction is written out. (Go on over to something like The All Music Guide and look at the album covers.)

Then we move to the Jesus and Mary Chain. Of their full-length releases, only Stoned & Dethroned (note the ampersand in the title, probably influencing its use in display of the band’s name) and, uh, Munki show the band’s name with an ampersand. The rest write out the and in full.

Finally, there’s Peter Bjorn and John. On every one of their releases, their name appears exactly like that: no ampersand, no commas. So why do all these dolts enter it into databases as “Peter Bjorn & John”?

In general – since, where names of entities are concerned, there’s no particular rule concerning the ampersand – I’d say you should follow the band’s practice. If the band consistently uses an ampersand, with maybe one or two exceptions, use it. (That said, I just like “X and the Things” better than “X & the Things”…) If it primarily or exclusively does not use the ampersand, don’t go and shove on in there.  The lower-case letters “and” are very easy to type – easier than it is to type an ampersand, in fact.

So cut it out. & that’s that.

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10 Comments

Filed under langwich, noiselike

10 responses to “I do not like you, ampersand…

  1. Janet

    and & and & and & and & and & and &

    Just testing. How is it easier to type the word out?

  2. Janet

    I mean type out the word, wise guy.

  3. Because “and” is three simple finger-strokes, whereas “&” requires holding down the shift key plus a finger stroke. Since most typing is just finger-strokes, each time you have to do something different (hold down a key, move out of the usual home-row configuration), there’s a marginal increase in effort and therefore decrease in ergonomic efficiency. At least that’s the way it feels to me.

    I suppose if you type “&” all the time you get used to it – just as most people can type their names much more quickly than, say, the set of characters corresponding but shifted one key left (until they recognize that fact, I suppose).

  4. villain

    I make ampersand out to be 6 keystrokes: shift,7,a,m,p,semicolon and would definitely rather type “and.”
    signed,
    Justup Dateda Concertcalendar

  5. Janet

    villain: har.

    FF: you may be aware that a Google search for “architectural dance society” shows the OLD blog as the top result. Can ya do something about that?

  6. Janet: I don’t think I can. I could delete it all…but some comments didn’t make it over to the new site. The problem, I assume, is that the old site had five years’ worth of “popularity” to hike it up in Google’s rankings. So if you and everyone you know keep clicking through to the WordPress version, maybe things will change…

  7. What’s weird: I just checked, and this new site only barely has better numbers than the old one is still getting… I don’t have time right now to dig into the Google Analytics page…but I’m guessing that’s an artifact of (a) the Google thing you mention above and (b) other sites that haven’t updated their links.

    It’s a weird problem: because the old site was there, the above factors tend to make its popularity (such as it is) persist. If I were smarter, I’d figure a way to have any arrival at the old site merely be forwarded to the corresponding page at the new one…but that’s more mojo than I’ve got.

  8. Janet

    Back to ampersands… not to argue with you (for a change), but I just plain like ’em. They look jaunty and quaint, they’re fun to hand-write, & they offer a nice little respite from the same-old 26 letters all the time.

    Google is goofy. FWIW, Bing has the correct (wordpress) link at the top of its results.

  9. Steve

    There are also cases where the band name changes over time.. Such as.

    Tyranny of Distance = Ted Leo/Pharmacists
    Hearts of Oak = Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
    Tell Balgeary = Ted Leo/The Pharmacists
    Shake The Sheets = Ted Leo + Pharmacists
    Living With The Living = Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

  10. I think there was that earlier, weird one billed to “Tej Leo”… I have normalized those to “Ted Leo and the Pharmacists” (or maybe “& the”: I have been inconsistent) because in this case, it’s obvious that how to list the band name is a bit of a game… Sorta like the Residents’ old graphic design company, whose name always was pronounced “pornographics” but was rendered differently on every album (“Poor No Graphics,” “Porn-o-Grafix” etc. – I’m making them up, don’t know if those are actual examples).

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