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On the Term "Banjoist"

Posted by Stev187 on Saturday, January 20, 2007

I don't care for the term "banjoist." I just don't like it. I never recall hearing it back in the day, but I see it a lot here. I could be way off base, but it seems pretentious to me.

It's probably the English teacher in me, but I also don't like the phonology. Consider other instruments ending in similar vowels, such as oboe, piccolo, cello. Oboeist I might be able to live with; the others seem odd.

Cello is an interesting one. One who plays the cello is a cellist, not a celloist. Should we be called "banjists"? Of course, then there is soloist.

How would we add "-ist" to violincello? Odd stress pattern there in the term "violincelloist," or even "violincellist."

It would be absurd to think of a kazooist. But then, "kazoo player" sounds odd, too. We'd better stick with "plays the kazoo," which is charitable enough.

I guess I'd prefer to be called a banjo player. It's only one extra syllable. And it just sounds better.

Is there something negative about being a "player"? Is that less serious? I don't think so.

Do we have envy for the guitar players who get to be guitarists?

For years, I was a bass player, and I don't mind the term bassist. But bass doesn't end in a vowel.


4 comments on “On the Term "Banjoist"

maryzcox Says:
Sunday, January 21, 2007 @11:02:11 AM

Click for Large Version

My family calls me "banjoholic."

Stev187 Says:
Sunday, January 21, 2007 @11:16:59 AM

I can relate to that.  Recently, when a new banjo arrived at the house, my 5 year old son shouted out:

"Just what we need around here--another banjo!"

Where does he get that caustic sense of humor????

Just Bill Says:
Sunday, January 21, 2007 @5:22:43 PM

Howdy, Steve

That is a very thought provoking commentary.  I agree, I can't seem to bring myself to use the term, "banjoist."   Banjo player or banjo picker works for me.

"...ist" seems to fit other things, but doesn't flow with a banjo.   For example,  when I play the banjo, some folks call me a "sadist."   Or perhaps they were describing my picking as the saddest?  Or both?

Unplugged Says:
Monday, January 22, 2007 @8:03:11 AM

Ah, you as a teacher should know better than to try to make sense out of the English language, which uses so many "foreign" terms. :-)

How about fervent pickers being known as  "banjistas"?

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