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The root -nym- means "name", as in antonym, synonym, pseudonym, and anonymous: an "opposite name", a "same name", a "false name" (pen name), and "without a name". This week we'll nimbly present some interesting, less-known nym-words.

Beginning with a seriously obscure one. There is an antonym for "antonym" (namely "synonym"), but is there any synonym for "synonym"? Of course!

poecilonym – any of several names for the same thing; a synonym
[from ancient Greek pokilos "many-colored, variegated, various". Akin to such things as Sanskrit for " to cut, trim, prepare, adorn". Thus, while synonym means "same thing", poecilonym means "a varied name (for the same thing)".]

Poecilonym is of course a completely useless word, because no one knows it, and because we already have a perfectly good word, "synonym", to express the meaning. But there's a derivative that would have a use, for I know of no other word that could be used in its place. It is closer to the root sense of "variegated".

poecilonymic – having a variety of names (as do certain gods, for example)
One could eruditely refer to the "poecilonymic characters" of a Russian novel.
 
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Hmm, how is that be pronounced? I think the first word would be pələnɪm, but I'm not sure about the second. My first thought was along the lines of pəsɪlɒnəmɪk, but the "oe" could be instead pronounced "i:" as in onomatopoeia, plus I'm not sure about the stress...

Great word, anyway; I fully intend to try and use it often in conversation!


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If I had to say it, I'd go with /pi:'sɪlɪʲoʊnɪm/.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I think I'd play safe and use it only in writing. Even if I were certain of the pronunciation it's the sort of word over which it's all too easy to trip up. Smile


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Retronyms are everywhere, but we're scarcely aware of them, and it's fun to try to spot them.

retronym – (when the meaning of a term has changed due to newer developments) a modified term used to designate older meaning
. . .For example: Before electricity the word guitar meant a certain acoustic instrument. But nowadays guitar can also mean an electric guitar, so if we want to specify the non-electric form only, we call it an acoustic guitar.
. . .Similarly, at one time a movie was a soundless thing. But today when we hear of a movie we assume that it has sound; if not, we call it a silent movie.
    Unfortunately, the evolution of Zinfandel got sidetracked by the creation of the wildly popular rosé, White Zinfandel … during a period of slack demand for red wine in the early 1970s. As a result, wine lists must now use the retronym "Red Zinfandel" to indicate
    the varietal in its original form.
    – Danny May, Wine Lover's Journal
 
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Today's word was proposed in 1884 as an obscure medical term, but it soon fell into oblivion. For over a century it was essentially unused. Then suddenly it was re-created – by Rolling Stone magazine, as far as I can tell – with a new meaning.

mononym – a one-word name by which a person is known (for example, Madonna; Cher; Pele)
[Query whether Shaq, Elvis and Hillary would count. You know who is meant, but you'd also recognize their surnames.
. . .Usually the person is a celebrity or a wannabe. But not always, as in the last quote, concerning the outfit that was the downfall of New York governor Eliot Spitzer.]
    … guitarist Jimmy Flemion, a bassist who goes by the mononym Larry …
    – Rolling Stone (online), Sept. 25, 1998

    US authorities have smashed an online escort service that gave its prostitutes a one- to seven-diamond ranking. The appointments, made through an online booking service, cost between $1080 and $5950 an hour. The group's website, which can be access through an internet archiving service, had a selection of photos of women, all with their faces obscured. Under each photo and mononym was a rating. "We offer a convenient variety of services globally," the introduction to a 2007 version of the site states.
    – The Age, March 7, 2008 (ellipses omitted)
 
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oronym – a phrase or sentence that can be read in two ways with the same sounds.

At first this looks like just an amusing phenomenon (examples below) with a pedantic name. But on a deeper level, it demonstrates that "all speech is an illusion."
    All speech is an illusion. We hear speech as a string of separate words, but [t]here are no little silences between spoken words the way there are white spaces between written words. We simply hallucinate word boundaries when we reach the edge of a stretch of sound that matches some entry in our mental dictionary. This becomes apparent when we listen to speech in a foreign language: it is impossible to tell where one word ends and the next begins. The seamlessness of speech is also apparent in "oronyms," strings of sounds that can be carved into words in two different ways.

    . . .The good can decay many ways.
    . . .The good candy came anyways.

    . . .The stuffy nose can lead to problems.
    . . .The stuff he knows can lead to problems.

    . . .Some others I've seen.
    . . .Some mothers I've seen.

    – Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct (ellipses omitted)
 
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Great Scott, I love that last entry, about oronyms. It's that sort of fascinating intricacy that makes me so keen to do my English Language course next year!


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Thanks for the positive feedback, Stanley. You have me glowing. Smile

metonymy – a figure of speech substituting one word or phrase for another with which it is closely associated
metonym – the word or phrase so used

This letter-to-the-editor appeared in the Wall Street Journal of Sept. 27, 2008:
    Wall Street Is Just a Metonym for Life
    Alan Reynolds states, "Wall Street was always a metaphor, of course." Actually, "Wall Street," like "The Pentagon" or "Hollywood" is a metonym, not a metaphor.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Stanley:
Great Scott, I love that last entry, about oronyms. It's that sort of fascinating intricacy that makes me so keen to do my English Language course next year!


What exactly is the course you are doing? As an ESOL/EFL teacher I'm always fascinated by hearing about courses other people are doing.
 
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Originally posted by BobHale:What exactly is the course you are doing? As an ESOL/EFL teacher I'm always fascinated by hearing about courses other people are doing.

It's called Applied English Language Studies and I'll be doing it at the University of Reading. I think, though, that they've changed the name to just "English Language", but the content has stayed the same.

In fact, I know, I'll link you to it Big Grin


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Sounds like a really interesting course. As it progresses keep us informed. I'm sure there will be lots in it that everyone here would just drool over to discuss. (Actually now I've written it that doesn't seem that great an image. Smile )
 
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Oronym (Homophone) Poetry

There is a well-known poem called Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer (I Have a Spelling Checker) that written almost entirely with homophones. It could be considered an oronym poem:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

(Sauce unknown)
 
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tinman, wiccan nutmeg uneven bet terracks ample! Big Grin
(paint over: tinman, we cannot make an even better example!)
 
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The locals' proper name of a city, country or the like often differs from the name used by foreigners. Rome, Moscow, Poland, Germany and Hungary are known to their natives as Roma, Moskva, Polska and (bigger differences) Deutschland and Magyarország . Similarly differing are the names for the inhabitants and of their languages. People in Germany, Poland and Hungary do not call themselves "Germans", "Poles" and "Hungarians", and the languages we call French, German and Hebrew are known, in those tongues, as Français, Deutsch and ﬠבּרּיּתּ (Eevreet).

exonym – foreigners' name for a place or for its inhabitants, where different from the local name¹
endonym (much rarer) – the locally-used name
Apparently, when naming inhabitants, the foreigners' name for them is the ethnonym and the locals' name for themselves is the autonym.

Sometimes the exonym, the name outsiders use for a group, is meant to be pejorative, an ethnic slur. But the group being slurred often turns the tables by proudly adopting the exonym as its own name. I hope to return to that concept in a future theme.
    The [language] of the … island of St Lucia is called Patwa, an autonym originating from the deprecatory exonym patiols.
    – George Lang, Entwisted Tongues

    The term pied-noir became widely used during the French-Algerian War. It appears to have been an "exonym, a name granted by outsiders. Such terms are often 'tinged with implied inequality or negative valuation" … many repatriates from Algeria have reclaimed the term for themselves, claming exonym as autonym.
    – Andrea L. Smith, Colonial Memory and Postcolonial Europe

    The label 'Gypsy' is problematic. It is sometimes considered to be a pejorative exonym
    – Angus Bancroft, Roma and Gypsy-Travellers in Europe

    What seems most likely is that the term ﬠבּרּיּ [eevree] was an exonym borrowed by Israel from the surrounding peoples, especially Egypt. … the common suggestion that ﬠבּרּיּ is related to the root ﬠבּרּ 'to go across' supports the notion of an exonym.
    – Kenton L. Sparks, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel



¹ Note: The definitions in dictionaries (which are rare) and elsewhere online are not totally consistent on whether the terms apply to differing forms of a place-name, or of an inhabitant-name, or to both.

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If a Texan meets an Ulsterman in London and each call the other a Yank or a Brit, are they using ethnonyms or pejoratives? Smile
 
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I was just talking to my mum this morning about oronyms and she reminded me of one of her favourites:

I chased a bug around a tree; I'll get his blood, he knows.

To sound like:

I chased a bugger round a tree; I'll get his bloody nose.


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his bloody nose.

Just how bad a word is "bloody" in the UK? I heard at one time it was taboo.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Not very bad at all. Most people use it fairly freely.
 
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There was a great furore when Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw was first performed in 1913. Eliza has to say the line, "Not bloody likely!"

For a while, a popular phrase "Not Pygmalion likely!" flourished between the wars as a sort of homage.

There was of course a similar fuss later over Rhett Butler saying, "Frankly, my dear, I couldn't give a damn!" in Gone with the Wind.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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"Are you pregnant?" Tom Swift asked his girlfriend. "Not bloody likely," she said, periodically.

Couldn't resist.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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patronym; patronymic – a name derived from that of a father or male ancestor (esp. by adding an affix), e.g. the names Johnson, Richardson, Anderson, etc.

Similarly, a name derived from that of a female ancestor is a matronymic.
    I don't know if his scrutiny was lecherous or merely curious, but I felt assaulted and turned away from him, and then when he asked me my name, I lied. I did it quickly, without hesitation, inventing a new patronym: Davidsen. I became Iris Davidsen.
    – Siri Hustvedt, The Blindfold: A Novel

    [R]elatives of the 700 hostages being held captive inside a central Moscow theater held their vigil throughout the night. Cellphone calls from hostages inside the theater were all relatives had against the confusion and lack of clear information. After two explosions, Tatyana Vladimirovna ["Vladimir's daughter"], 57, began to shriek. Tatyana, who gave only her patronym, not her surname, held her cellphone in front of her with both hands like an injured bird. Her daughter, Maria, a hostage, had just called.
    – New York Times, Hostage Drama in Moscow, Oct. 25, 2002 (ellipses omitted)
 
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