[Ads-l] retcon

James Eric Lawson jel at NVENTURE.COM
Fri May 14 04:32:21 UTC 2021

On 5/13/21 1:41 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Serious historiography is constantly revising and discovering, but it isn't
> "retconning" or practicing "revisionist history."
> These terms don't just have negative connotations. They denote tendentious,
> and even outright mendacious treatment of established facts.

I would go along with 'revisionist history', but uses of 'retcon' don't
seem to be inherently normative.

On 5/13/21 10:19 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:>>> While I'm griping about Google
Groups... I can't even find that
>>> 8/15/89 rec.arts.sf-lovers post in the current archive. Can anyone else
>> get to it?

The post is unavailable on Google Groups because rec.arts.sf-lovers has
been banned:

"Banned content warning
rec.arts.sf-lovers has been identified as containing spam, malware, or
other malicious content."


As a proximate origin for the critical sense of 'retcon', which I have
trouble deriving directly from the sense of Tupper's 1973 calque of
Pannenberg (as mentioned in Friedman's blog post and Wikipedia),


a 1984 post on net.comics seems closer to the bone (emphasis added):

"It seems they'd really be screwing up the *continuity*; when the
Baxter books are reprinted in the Mando title, we will have had some
'*retroactive foreshadowing*' (to coin a phrase), and a lot of confusion."


As such critical terms go, I far prefer the precision (and humorous
self-contradiction) of 'retroactive foreshadowing' over 'retroactive
continuity', which last seems much more suited to straightforward
production language than description of the resulting device. And if it
comes to a desirable shortening, 'retfore' gets my vote as well.

James Eric Lawson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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