There are two meanings of the term retronym. First, spelling a
word backwards to create a new word. A good example of this is the
retronym yob, a negative term for a male youth, formed by spelling
The second interpretation of
retronym is having to find a new name for something because
technological or other developments have made the original name
confusing and inadequate. An example is television. If you want to
describe what was originally television you have to use the
retronym black-and-white television, as today television means
colour television. The same has happened in the film industry
where the retronym silent movie is required if you mean what was
originally a movie. Once mail only had one meaning within
communications, now the retronyms snail mail and paper mail are
common to avoid confusion with electronic mail. The same goes for
watch (retronym: analog watch), text (retronym: hardcopy),
type-writer (retronym: manual typewriter) even Coke has its
retronyms: real Coke and Classic Coke. New retronyms are rapidly
entering English. Two recent additions are: eyeball search and
natural language. Possibly Mr Clinton's public statement that he
did not have sex with a young White House assistant will
eventually produce a new retronym: full-participation sex.
biannual, biennial, biennale
Biannual means two times a year. As some people
confuse biannual with biennial, it is possible to replace biannual
by semiannual, half yearly or every six months: «The project
will be funded on a semiannual basis».
Biennial means every two years: «This plant did
not flower this year as it is a biennial». If you feel
readers could make the above confusion, biennial can be replaced
by every second year or every other year.
Biennale means a large exhibition or music festival,
usually arranged biennially. A group in NTNU that coordinated the
first Trondheim Biennale in 1998 is now planning the se-cond
Trondheim Biennale for 1999.
loose, loosen, lose
pronounced /lu:s/, means to release or detach. If you untie dogs,
you set them loose. You can also talk about «a loose tooth»,
or «loose change» (Norw. småpenger).
Loosen, /lu:sn/, means to make something looser: «His
new shoes were killing him until he loosened the laces».
Lose, pronounced /lu:z/, means failing to find
something: «He is always losing things and would lose his
head if it was not screwed on». Lose also means being
deprived of something. «Use it or lose it» advised an
English expert on male sexual problems. Dagbladet managed to mix
up lose and loose and the above expert was reported as saying:
«Use it or loose it» (16 October 1998).
is more than merely a large town. It may have legal status
that comes from the monarch, as in Britain, or from the state, as
in the USA. Most cities have a cathedral and/or a university. Size
is usually, but not always, important. One of the world's
financial centres has over a million people working there, but the
City of London is only one square mile and has a population of
about 6 000. There are also quite small cities in the American
West. In other parts of the English-speaking world many large
towns are called city without any legal rights or royal charter.
It follows from this that in Norway: Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim
should be correctly termed cities. Tromsø and Stavanger are
also usually considered cities, but most other urban settlements
in Norway are best termed large towns, towns or small towns. An
example of this confusion is «Longyearbyen with 1600
is now a small but modern city» (UNIS
Town is often used for places that are larger than
villages but smaller than cities. Sometimes part of a city is
called a town, as in «the old town». The size of towns
is often used as a concept as in «small-town America».
In BE, town is also used for the whole of London: «The talk
of the town». Note that in BE, there is no article in
expressions that refer to London like «we have a small flat
in town». If you said «we have a small flat in the
town», this means any town apart from London.
Notice in Stockholm Zoo: Please do not feed the animals.
They may get sick of being fed by the public.
a Budapest zoo: Please do not feed the animals. If you have any
suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.