02. Bits and pieces

There is a language consisting of only 15 words spoken in every country in the world.  The language is rich in nuance and capable of extraordinary communication by those who have mastered it.  Most sentences are two words.  The language has several dialects which are unintelligible to those who speak a different dialect.  The complete vocabulary of the language is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, club, diamond, heart, spade, no trump, double, redouble, and pass.  It is the language of contract bridge.

The credibility of Dancing With the Stars has made its way from the toilet to the sewer.


USA Today reports:  Hillbuzz (.org) editor Kevin DuJan has been promoting her DWTS run since the season’s debut. He has personally voted for Bristol Palin “hundreds of times” via 40 e-mail addresses. “Each address is allowed to vote 10 times. You can also telephone. You can easily vote hundreds of times if you want to take the time to do it,” says DuJan.


The same article mentions people shooting their TVs when results are announced.  I daresay the great pleasure Palin’s supporters derives not from Bristol’s performance but—once again—putting one over on the American public.


Neighbors, a concept that changes for someone whose address changes daily.

It was Robert Burns who said. “O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us. To see oursels as others see us.”  But I would like to see others as they see themselves?

The November number of The Sun (the magazine) was especially interesting for me.  A cautionary look at the Tea Party movement, a poignant personal remembrance of childbirth, a collection of short articles by readers on the prompted topic of Teenagers.  The Sun, if you have yet to taste it, is provocative on a personal level and progressive in its political inclination.  The Sun is advertising-free and a substantial portion of its content is reader contributed. Fiction, poetry, and photography are respected in every issue.  (www.thesunmagazine.org/)


Oakland, Ca, home of the first transgender judge in the nation.


I’ve heard the First Unitarian Church of Kennebunkport, Me has recalled all the tee-shirts from a recent fund-raiser.

http://www.afrigadget.com is website about solving common problems with African Ingenuity.  Charge your cell phone while pedaling your bicycle.  A dung-powered car.

I was disappointed to learn that the acronyms for Port Out Starboard Home and Store High in Transit did not originate as acronyms but actually have an authentic entymology.

A backronym is an acronym created from an existing words i.e. HOMES, the mnemonic for the names of the Great Lakes.

Capitonym is a word that changes its meaning and pronunciation when capitalized i.e. polish, concord, august.

Retronym is a phrase that came into existence to distinguish a new meaning from the original meaning usually by adding an adjective to the original word, i.e. Snail mail, Wild salmon, Brick-and-mortar store, audio books, black and white TV.

What is your favorite retronym?

9 Responses to 02. Bits and pieces

  1. Pingback: Welcome | AL's Blog

  2. Risa says:

    How about digital watch, artificial turf and hard copy?

  3. Risa says:

    oops…I meant to say analog watch! And what about land line?

    • allevenson says:

      I think we’ll get some fun answers to this one. I am interested to see how far back we can go in history. Not all retronyms are rooted in new technology. World War I was known as The Great War in its time. It became WWI only when they named WWII.

  4. Anne Fox says:

    Hmmm, “authentic entomology.” Where’s that good old Merriam Webster when you want it?

  5. karen wittgraf says:

    I have to be real here- have to go to bristol Palin’s dance. Dance is a tribal emotion, and Bristol doesn’t dance- she practices. There is a huge difference. Let’s practice democracy instead.

  6. Anne Fox says:

    Meaning rather than spelling. A.

  7. Alex says:

    possibilities and questions:
    there’s- horseless carriage, New Deal, moon shot and bicycle kick.
    But are complete reversals like idiot savant or ethnic cleansing retronyms or antonyms? If it is one word, like underworld, does it count? Can someone make the case for Madam Speaker? Does neo-anything qualify?
    I can see I’ll obsess about this all day. Thanks Al.

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