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Prolepsis

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Prolepsis

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:42 pm

• prolepsis •


Pronunciation: pro-lep-sis • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Taking something anticipated as already done, as in, "If you don't do what I tell you, you're dead." 2. Anticipation of a question that will likely arise from a claim, as in, "Tomorrow will be sunny. I know the weather forecast predicts rain, but the forecast is wrong more often than it is right." 3. Misstating the existence of something before its time, as the precolonial United States.

Notes: This word has found a comfortable niche in the vocabulary of rhetoric, but it might be used more often generally. Speakers often confuse dates and anticipate criticisms of what they are saying. Latinate words ending in -sis form adjectives by replacing the first S with T: analysis - analytic, psychosis - psychotic. Prolepsis is no exception. The adjective for this word is either proleptic or proleptical, but you can use only the latter to create an adverb: proleptically. This same group of adjectives forms their plural by replacing sis with ses, so the plural of prolepsis is prolepses.

In Play: The most common use of prolepsis is in the first sense: "If I don't get this report done tonight, I'm finished at the office." However, here is an example of prolepsis in the second sense: "Now, I know what your reaction will be, honey, but I'm getting a motorcycle anyway. I'm the only one among my friends who doesn't have one."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a Greek word transliterated letter for letter. In Greek prolepsis meant "anticipation" and is made up of pro "before" + the noun from lambanein "to take". The same root that we see in lambanein turned up in Sanskrit as labhate "seizes", in Old Church Slavonic as leca "to catch, snare", and is akin to Lithuanian lobis "possession, riches". In Old English it appeared as læccan "to seize, grasp", which made it down to us as latch. (Let us now unproleptically thank Lee Blue for suggesting today's almost forgotten Good Word.)
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:27 pm

Is "anachronism" a synonym for meaning 3?
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:15 pm

good question.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby MTC » Thu Jul 18, 2013 3:58 pm

When the clocks strikes 3--a famous literary anachronism:

Brutus: Peace! count the clock.
Cassius: The clock has stricken three.
(Act II, scene i : lines 193 - 194 of Julius Caesar)
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:12 pm

I think prolepsis is primarily concerned with assuming the future. Definition 3 seems to give it a twist, in the Good Doctor's illustration, by defining a past situation in reference to a situation that happened later. Our ancestors who lived in 1850 didn't know they were antebellum.

An anachronism is a chronological misplacement but I think it does not refer to the future. An anachronism is something out of place in time but is not a predictor. Definition 3 of prolepsis may come close to an anachronism but it doesn't nearly cover the range of anachronisms.

I have been called an anachronism on many occasions.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby MTC » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:31 pm

Philip Hudson wrote: An anachronism is a chronological misplacement but I think it does not refer to the future. An anachronism is something out of place in time but is not a predictor.


If this were correct, how would you account for Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea which is one big anachronism containing many predictors or references to the future including, for example, nuclear power which did not exist in 1869? You may have been flattered--not insulted--by being labelled "an anachronism," Philip.
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:59 pm

I was an avid fan of Jules Verne as a child. I went around the world in 80 days and 20,000 leagues under the sea with him. I am still a fan. What I marvel at is his uncanny "guesses" at the future. How could he have known? Other science fiction pales under comparison.

I need to be convinced that he was writing anachronisms or prolepses when he pioneered science fiction. I am willing to learn.
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Re: Prolepsis

Postby MTC » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:23 pm

"Back to the Future!" :D
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