Language Lab: Counterexceptionym
cown-tur-ex-sep-shun-ee-um (alt. pronunciation: southern Georgia)
n. A word which refers to anything outside a small, specific sub-group of a general category. Outside of the context of that sub-group, the word has little meaning except to except that to which it refers from the aforementioned sub-group.
Civilian — One who is not military personnel.
Gentile — One who is not Jewish.
Layperson / Layman — One who is not a member of clergy.
Sighted — One who is not blind.
Muggle — (fictional, from Harry Potter series) — one who is not a wizard. Also used in “geocaching” to refer to members of the public who are unaware of the “sport” (and who, if they were aware of it, would insist upon using quotation marks when referring to it as a “sport.”)
To describe something using a counterexceptionym outside of the sub-group context deceptively attaches hardly any meaning to it at all. For example, if a person describes him or herself as “A Sighted Civilian Gentile Layperson” very little information is attained, though upon appearances it may appear that a large amount of information has been disclosed. In fact, all that is gathered by that description is that the person is not blind, does not currently serve in the military, is not Jewish, and is not a member of church clergy. The person described could be a Zoroastrian car salesman from Hiroshima or an Agnostic horse whisperer who lives on an boathouse on Lake Hart, Australia… or practically anyone who does not fall into those specific sub-groups from which he is or she is excepted. Less information could only be gathered by introducing oneself with: “Hi. I eat solid food, have ten fingers, and don’t work in a coal mine. Oh, and did I mention that I have two nipples?”
1. Examples of words that may seem to be, but are NOT counterexceptionyms:
Protestant — this word contains information that a person is of the Christian religion, although not Catholic, so it still defines a larger sub-group of people. A proper counterexceptionym would only make a comparison between a small sub-group, and, in the case of people, the rest of humanity.
Earthling — this word is derived from fiction, and if were actually used by aliens, then in that reality, would actually refer to humans as a smaller sub-group of life forms in the galaxy/universe, and thus would not be a Counterexceptionym.
Land-dweller (and similar self-descriptive words) — this is simply a compound word that contains its own definition, although its meaning is similar, as very few people dwell somewhere other than land.
Any word beginning with non- or anti- or other similar prefixes. The meanings of those words are self-apparent, and thus are not counterexceptionyms.
2. History’s first counterexceptionym:
The ancient Greeks, renowned as pioneers of pomposity, used the word barbar (from which the word barbarian is derived) to refer to anyone who was not Greek, and thus considered less than civilized.
In order to avoid the cruel irony inherent in such words as dyslexia, lisp, palindrome, acronym, synonym, and onomatopoeia, it is necessary for the word counterexceptionym, itself, to have a counterexceptionym…
Posted on October 19, 2010
Category : Language Lab
American and/or British English
This is a proposed new addition to the language, and, as such, its use has been neither tested nor approved. Any usage of this word in conversation or written form resulting in derision or injury is in no way the responsibility of ThunkTV or its affiliates or your sister’s neighbor’s gerbil or his affiliates, gerbilical or otherwise.
Originally published at thunk.tv.