Monday, November 14, 2022

Repress - a new contranym?

I think I spotted a new contronym this morning.

Here's the definition of contranym and one of my favourite examples from Wiktionary:

A contranym or contronym is a word which has two or more generally accepted meanings in the English language that directly or generally contradict each other.



"To permit"; or "to restrict" (as in "economic sanctions").

Wikipedia seems to prefer the term auto-antonym and says:

An auto-antonym or autantonym, also called a contronym or antagonym among other terms, is a word with multiple meanings (senses) of which one is the reverse of another. For example, the word cleave can mean "to cut apart" or "to bind together".

New example - Repress

For a moment, an email this morning from the indie pop band Lucius had me thinking their 2016 album Good Grief was being restrained, prevented or inhibited from being distributed. But then I realized that in fact, the album is to be reissued and given wider release:

Good Grief has just been repressed on limited edition blue wave swirl vinyl through the Minneapolis-based co. Bandbox. [bolding added]

I've done some checking and although I can't find a dictionary that talks about the reissuing of recordings,  people are using the word "repress" to refer to an album release from an original master recording. From Discogs Database Guidelines 6. Format:

...A repress must originate from the original master disc, and the term is only applied to formats that are stamped or pressed out, such as vinyl and CD. The 'Reissue' tag can be used in other circumstances, see the guideline for the correct usage of that tag. 'Reissue' and 'Repress' can be used together...

Other artists are using "repress" as well, like PJ Harvey:
IS THIS DESIRE? is repressed on vinyl. Out 29 January 2021 on UMC/ Island.
and the Skatalites:
REPRESSED: THE SKATALITES “Platinum Ska” LP vinyl includes 3 bonus dubs!
Jamaican ska legends’ latest album “Platinum Ska” finally repressed on vinyl with three bonus dubs.

What to do?

I really don't know what to do now. I feel too intimidated to email the experts at Language Log and adding a word to the lists on Wiktionary and Wikipeda goes way beyond the simple grammatical edits I've done before.  

I see that the Talk page for the Auto-Antonym page on Wikipedia has a heading labeled "oo got a new one". I'll try adding my discovery to that and see what happens.

Update - November 15, 2022

"Repress" won't be appearing in Wiktionary or Wikipedia. At least not this week.

My trial-run on the Auto-antonym Talk page on Wikipedia did not go over well. An editor named Meters didn't think "repress" is an auto-antonym and another editor named Sundayclose thought it is a questionable example and for Wikipedia "a reliable source that these words are auto-antonyms is required". 

I should have realized that Wikipedia would need a source. I've read about celebrities trying to fix mistakes on their Wikipedia pages and having their edits reverted because the mistakes had an internet source and the corrections were only the celebrity's unverified words.

If someone would like to take on a campaign to get a language maven to add "repress" to contranym lists, you have my full support.

But if I find time to put into changing the world, I think I should focus on something that is at least as important to our lives as getting elevator buttons fixed.

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