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RETRONYM

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RETRONYM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:39 pm

• retronym •

Pronunciation: re-trê-nim

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A phrase created to distinguish a term that was once used alone but now must be distinguished from a phrase based on the term that indicates a new development.

Notes: As modern technology makes finer and finer distinctions among the products we use in our lives, the words referring to those products must make finer and finer categorical distinctions. What was simply a book in my youth, today is a hardback book to distinguish it from a paperback book. Hardback book, then, is a retronym. Others include dead tree book (formerly book) vs. e-book, ice skates (formerly skates) vs. roller skates, whole milk (formerly just milk) vs. skim(med) milk.

In Play: This good word is a 'neologism', a new term that has not been accepted by all English dictionaries. Since there is no compelling reason we can see to talk about retronyms (they are just there), we are also not sanguine about its chances of survival. Retronyms themselves are not new, just the term is. Expressions like sighted person vs. blind person, a hearing person vs. a deaf person have been around for ages

Word History: Today's word was coined recently from the Latin adverb retro "backward" attached to our old friend, Greek onyma "name". Of course, combining a Latin with a Greek word to form a compound is not grammatically kosher. Using a 'nym to refer to a phrase rather than a word is roller skating on thin grammatical ice, too. These weaknesses only reinforce our doubts about the stick-to-it-iveness of today's word. But, then, odder words than this have made it through. (Our chief web administrator, Andrew Shaffer, was disappointed that we omitted this 'nym in our recent series on this category. We hope this discussion raises his spirits—and yours.)
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:26 am

Of course, combining a Latin with a Greek word to form a compound is not grammatically kosher.

Why, just because it's a hybrid? What's wrong with that? How many people know that?

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Postby tcward » Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:23 am

I've been calling this device a television for years. I'm in big trouble.

-Tim
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:45 am

Right! The Hybridpolizei will come after you, Tim. Achtung!

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Postby tcward » Tue Mar 29, 2005 11:11 am

Hybridpolizei? Nicht bedeuten Sie die Grammatikdirektoren...?

-Tim ;)
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:25 pm

Die Hybridpolizei ist eine Abteilung der Grammatikdirektoren.

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Postby Apoclima » Tue Mar 29, 2005 3:06 pm

Was it gailr who found that site about the grammar police?

Grammar Police

International Grammar Police Branch Office

Apo
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Postby gailr » Tue Mar 29, 2005 6:40 pm

I don't think I can take credit for those sites, but I enjoyed perusing them today, Apo. I eagerly await the day when one of our own is inducted into the "Deputies' Hall of Fame". Such an Agoran will deserve our obeisance.
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