[Ads-l] Not in the OED -- perhaps with good reason

Daphne Preston-Kendal dpk at NONCEWORD.ORG
Thu May 5 10:13:29 UTC 2022

On 5 May 2022, at 11:33, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> You can find a more extensive discussion of "throuple" (and "threeple"!) in
> this thread from last year:
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2021-March/thread.html#159430

Thanks for the reference!

Laurence also mentioned ‘compersion’. Unfortunately, the etymology he quoted from Wiktionary is woo.

Here’s what I wrote about it in about 2017, slightly updated:

> An arbitrary formation by members of the Kerista Commune (see <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerista>), apparently created using an alphabet board (a home-made device similar to a Ouija board). Possible influences on the participants include the words com- joint, mutual; per- through, across; compassion; person; etc.
> Some time after the creation of this word, the Kerista Commune discovered in an academic paper (C. Lévi-Strauss ‘The Social Use of Kinship Terms Among Brazilian Indians’ in Am. Anthropol. (1943) New Series, vol. 45, n. 3, pt 1, p. 398) the word compérage relationship between two husbands of the same wife (< French compérage affinity between partners < compère partner, also used by Lévi-Strauss as a term for one of the husbands in such a relationship). Some members of the commune then attempted to retroactively explain their new word as being somehow connected etymologically to it. The idea of that term having influenced the formation of this word cannot be supported scientifically or historically, unless anyone at the commune had read that paper prior to the alphabet board session at which this word was coined. There is no evidence to suggest that any of them had, and in any case the connection could then only be at most as strong as to the possible influences from English words listed above, given the communal nature of the alphabet board.

Annoyingly, I have since lost track of the primary sources for this, though.

My earliest quote for it is
1981: "The “starling” relationship elicits what they call “compersion” rather than jealousy." -- Alternative Lifestyles (jrnl) vol 4 no 3, p 379

The John F. Kennedy Institute here at the Freie Universität in Berlin has some (though not all) of Kerista’s newsletters on microfiche, and a poke around about that time showed up some early quotes (‘polyfidelity’, 1975) but I didn’t find anything for ‘compersion’. Kerista’s full archives are at Syracuse University in New York state.

dpk (Daphne Preston-Kendal) ·· 12107 Berlin, Germany ·· http://dpk.io/
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