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By Ashleylister @ashleylister
At least one fellow blogger has stumbled (albeit most entertainingly) way off into the etymological weeds when getting to grips with this week's given subject. Subsequently, Adele berated me saying I should have provided a helpful definition up-front. Perhaps she's right. Belatedly, here it is.

Retronymy is the process of creating new words for an existing concept in recognition of the fact the concept has evolved and broadened sufficiently to make the original name imprecise.
Take the word guitar for example. A hundred years ago (and more) a guitar was just a guitar. I'm over-simplifying mightily, because actually the history of the guitar goes back approximately 4,000 years to Babylonia, then Persia (sihtar), Ancient Greece (kithara) and Moorish Spain (guittara), but for the sake of this explication there were only guitars - hollow bodied wooden instruments with a sound hole bridged by six taut strings of various thicknesses which produced music when plucked or strummed. That was before electricity.
Can you see where this is going? Once the first chords had rung out from the first electric guitar in the 1930s then that old hollow-bodied wooden instrument with a sound hole bridged by six taut strings et cetera was renamed the acoustic guitar - voila, retronymy in action.


Retronymously Acoustic - a vintage 1929 Martin Guitar

A similar technological increment has seen the original watch become the pocket-watch when wrist-watches were devised (and no one apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg sports a pocket-watch any more); then the wrist-watch in turn become the analog wrist-watch with the advent of digital time-pieces - more retronymy.
The coining of a word to describe this act of retro-naming is credited to one Frank Mankiewicz, as recently as 1980. Mankiewicz was an American journalist, broadcaster and word-lover; (son, incidentally, of the man who wrote the screenplay for Orson Welles' 'Citizen Kane'). He is also believed to have come up with the phrase 'evergreening the language' (to describe the process of keeping it contemporary). The word retronymy was incorporated into standard English dictionaries around the millennium.
Here are some other examples of retronymys: the term Old World didn't exist before the New World was discovered; hand-written came into common usage once the typewriter had been invented, (for previously everything was just written); ice-skates became a term only after those with wheels had been devised (before that they were just skates); movies without sound started being referred to as silent movies with the advent of talkies; live music didn't acquire its adjective until recorded music became available...and so on. You can possibly call to mind other instances of retronymy; (push-bike, black & white photography, natural childbirth et cetera).
Returning to that first example of the guitar, shortly after the creation of the electric guitar, a four-string version with a lower register was devised, again in the 1930s. This was the bass guitar, my instrument of choice. In a curious inversion, the electric model of the bass came first and it was only when a hollow-bodied non-electric variant of the four-stringed instrument was pioneered in the 1950s that the bass guitar became known as the electric bass to differentiate it from the newer acoustic bass.


Retronymously Electric - your Saturday Blogger's 1960s Epiphone Bass

Now I'm suddenly troubled by a foolish worry that none of this may be of the slightest interest to anyone (please prove me wrong), so I'll hasten to a close by way of the week's new poem. Some of my more recent compositions have been a bit down-beat, mirroring the strange and troubling times we live in. I've tried to redress the balance a little with this more light-hearted (and interactive) tale.
Even as Fred lay braced
on the tattoo parlour couch
suffering pangs of love
for having undying devotion
to the amorous (insert girl's name)
emblazoned artfully
across his (choice of body part)
his clamorous mobile rang.
A phone-call from (the same, see above);
he'd better take it, mate.
Hi babes...
Ink-master Trevor, pen laid aside
at ornamental RUTH & FRE
intended to step out for a break,
was surprised by the sudden commotion:
a cry of angry despair,
that mobile phone hurled at the wall
and such a torrent of swearing
the studio air turned blue
(supply expletives to suit).
The upshot? That brazen (girl's name)
had just given Trevor's client the boot,
sadly not so besotted after all.
Half-inked and potted, poor Fred.
Such a predicament. Quick, think!
What to do with a semi-completed
but already seemingly redundant tattoo?
Fortune favours the clever.
The sharp-witted ink-master
was inspired by a notion
to save the day - and his commission.
In just over an hour and at no extra cost
a painful but slightly mollified Fred
was able to walk away
with  a timeless slogan which read:
a maxim bound to stand him in good stead,
plus his phone was insured
so he felt (complete with appropriate emotion).
Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas to all đŸŽ„ Stay true, stay tuned, Steve ;-) Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to Facebook


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