[Ads-l] retcon, n. (exists also as v.) in political journalism

Chris Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Tue Jun 7 16:55:21 UTC 2016

I was mildly surprised this morning to see what I think of a SFF fandom word, retcon, in a piece by Slate’s chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie:

There is a widespread belief that Donald Trump is immune to criticism, that he’s the new Teflon Don. And the proof of his apparent invulnerability is his success against a field of Republican leading lights. By beating 16 other candidates for the party’s nomination, goes the argument, Trump demonstrated his singular strength as a political force. But this is a retcon.

Retcon was formed from from "retroactive continuity" and refers to an explanation provided in later instalments or episodes for a previously revealed surprising or inconsistent plot point, with the apparent goal of repairing the inconsistency ex post facto. It can also be used as a verb (“The character X should really have had no problem writing the letter given he was supposedly college educated, so the writers retconned his struggles by mentioning later that he’s dyslexic.” In this case it is suspected that the only reason for the writers to make the character dyslexic is to retroactively explain something from previously revealed plot.) Sometimes it’s used just for a retroactive rewriting of any part of the story, by erasing the original parts. 


Chris Waigl -- http://chryss.eu -- http://eggcorns.lascribe.net
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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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