Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 08:54:09 -0400
From: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: Query: PREPONE

At 9:52 PM -0400 6/10/98, Margaret Ronkin wrote:
>I've been assuming that to _prepone_ X (1) means to reschedule X before
>the time X was scheduled, and (2) originated in (Asian) Indian English,
>possibly Bengali English. Two (not so great) examples - the second of
>which is definitely Indian - follow.
A quick check of Nexis supports your assumption. Virtually all 21 of the
citations either come from the press of the subcontinent or refer
(admiringly) to the ingenuity of Indian English speakers for having
invented this opposite of "postpone". The first citation, curiously, comes
from the "On Language" column of the N. Y. Times Magazine, but not on
Safire's watch. One of his summer replacements, Steven Weisman, wrote on
12 July 1987 about the glories of Indian English, citing "prepone" along
with "homely" to describe a good homemaker (as in personal ads; definitely
some potential for cross-dialectal interference here), "air-dash" to
describe how you fly somewhere in a hurry, etc.

>Can anyone help me with the origin and of this wonderful word? Is it
>current in other Englishes?
Apparently not yet, more's the pity, although one of the Asian citings is
from Hanoi. I will do my little part to rectify the situation by spreading
the word tomorrow in a toast at the Baltimore wedding of my niece,
originally scheduled for September 5th but just last week preponed to June