not quite WOTY

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 28 20:38:12 UTC 2012

... or even prefix OTY.

If OED is to be believed, the root/prefix crypto- is far more widespread
than one would assume from basic reading. One could say it's
crypto-popular. ;-)

However, in the current presidential cycle (and I mean 2007-2012,
incorporating both campaigns), two fairly novel compounds have been
created, perhaps even three by the third one has fallen by the wayside.
The first two reared up during the 2007 campaign--crypto-Muslim and
crypto-Socialist. Of course, this is a somewhat twisted usage--it was
only apparent among Obama supporters when criticizing the opposition
suffering from yet another version of "X Derangement syndrome" (where
X==Obama, with first use noted when X==Clinton). That is, birthers and
other assorted Obama critics did not shy away from using the full,
non-crypto versions, while those criticizing them pointed to their
belief that Obama was a crypto-Socialist and crypto-Muslim. With time,
the Socialist label stood on its own when mocking critics, with
"crypto-" now being dropped, but "crypto-Muslim" is still in use, but
less frequently, as the Obama opponents who believe that he is in fact a
Muslim have become less vocal in public.

Now, however, another crypto- has arisen in a similar context, although
it is in use by more than just supporters. Mitt Romney has always been a
big question mark in movement-Conservatism circles, and belief that he's
merely a poseur is quite common. While Romney supporters insist that
Romney is a "true conservative", some liberal commentators are only too
happy to slap the label of "crypto-liberal" on the critisism by Romney's
Republican opponents.
> Given his financial situation, he’s having to substitute sheer
> viciousness for ad time. And his Super-PAC’s Florida ads certainly
> leave little to the imagination in painting Romney as a flip-flopping
> crypto-liberal who loves him some baby-killers

The point here is that "crypto" is clearly used here in mockery of both
sides in the primary debate. And, if I were to venture a guess, people
who used the term had first become comfortable with using
"crypto-Muslim", which, in itself, was a parallel to "crypto-Jew" that
became the politically correct substitute of "Marrano(s)" when the claim
that "Marrano" was a term derived from a word for "pig" became popular.

In any case, "crypto-" is much more popular now (or so it seems) than it
was five years ago.


PS: I am using "prefix" to describe the position, not the role of the
form, fully aware that the terminology is not quite accurate. OED has it
as "comb. form", but that strikes me as a kludge.

The American Dialect Society -

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