I realize it's been a while since I posted last. I've been alternating between being sick and busy. And while my brain still isn't quite functional enough to come up with anything witty or brilliant at the moment, I thought I would shift over one of my posts from my personal blog because I think it fits this blog better...Originally posted 3.09.2005 on Limes with OrangeDinosaur Blog
\'dI-n&-"sor 'blŏg\, noun
: 1. An out-of-date method of informing a large audience about current events; 2. Newspaper.
Etymology: an amusing new retronym* courtesy of the comic strip Non Sequitur
: 1. A new word or phrase coined for an old object or concept whose original name became used for something else, or was no longer unique (Wikipedia
); 2. An adjective-noun pairing generated by a change in the meaning of the base noun, usually as a result of technological advance (Fun with Words
When asked for an example of a retronym, "Original Star Trek" usually leaps to mind. Which was, of course, simply "Star Trek" before all the various spin-offs. Other (non sci-fi geek) examples include "silent movie" and "acoustic guitar."
And I've noticed that the electronic age has resulted in an increasing number of retronyms (often unflattering). Such as "snail mail," a term coined after the advent of e-mail and generally preferred over the less derogatory options of "land mail" or "paper mail."Warning: abstruse linguistic tangent ahead...
As I write this, I notice that although "dinosaur blog" fits the first definition of retronym, it doesn't fit the second. The base noun ("blog") hasn't simply changed its meaning, the word itself is completely modern. So what do you call it when you take a word created for a modern object or concept and apply it to something older? Like someone referring to an abacus as a "non-electronic calculator." Hmm, that doesn't really work since the word calculator just means "one that calculates" and need not refer to something electronic. What about if someone referred to a play as a "live movie" (not that I've ever heard of such a thing, but I'm blanking on any good examples)?
Is it still a retronym?
It is named retroactively, which is the spirit of the word. But it doesn't fit that second definition, since plays existed long before movies were invented. But what would be the opposite of a retronym? Pronym (as in retroactive vs. proactive)? Anteronym (retrograde vs. anterograde)? Unfortunately, I can find no such terms amongst my "nym" words: synonym, antonym, homonym, acronym, pseudonym. Or the slightly less common patronym (a name derived from the name of one's father) or eponym (a name from which another name or word is derived). Not to mention the even less familiar metonym (a word substituted for another with which it is associated), bacronym (the reverse of producing an acronym), etc.
Conclusion of Tangent: Unless someone points me in the direction of another "nym" word that I've overlooked, or thinks I should list "anteronym" on the Wiktionary List of Protologisms, I guess I'll go with my first instinct and call "dinosaur blog" a retronym.
But I've let my inner amateur etymologist ramble on for far too long. Time to go finish last weekend's cryptic crossword in Canada's own national dinosaur blog: The Globe & Mail.