Saturday, March 23, 2013


I recently checked out my On Demand cable site  I went to the ABC page and the shows were listed alphabetically.  But I noticed titles like The Middle and The Neighbors were under the letter T.

Odd.  Generally, articles like "a" and "the" are ignored in alphabetical listings since they're so common all it means is once you get to that letter you start a secondary alphabetical search.  But the tide seems to be turning, and I'm seeing "the" and "a" being used more and more.

Perhaps the idea is simplification.  Just put it in alphabetical order with no exceptions. But even then there are tricky decisions to make.  For instance, what do you do with apostrophes?  For that matter, how do you deal with spaces between words?  I've seen some sources that just ignore them and, in essence, shove all the letters together, come what may.

Then there's the case of surnames starting with Mac and Mc.  Traditionally (and by that I mean the way I was taught), such names come before all the other M names, but that rule seems to have fallen by the wayside, by and large.

I don't mind changes in the rules.  I'd just like everyone to agree to the same conventions so I don't have to spend extra time looking things up.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

My mother was taught that "Mc" and "Mac" were alphabetized as if they were "Mac". So they didn't go before all the other M's. Viz.: Mabel, McCoy, McDonald, Mack, MacShane, Maddow.

English-language academic books are inconsistent in how they alphabetize names like "von Trapp" and "de Lubac" in the index.

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