Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 10:56:30 -0500
From: Mark Mandel
Subject: PREPONE

This word, especially written in uppercase (all caps), has been in my vocabulary for some 20 years, but not very
actively, and not exactly in English. Let me explain.

In American Sign Language (ASL) the sign usually glossed 'postpone' -- or 'POSTPONE', according to the common
convention of referring to signs by uppercase glosses (useful, sloppy, let's not get into that here) -- incorporates a
forward movement. This movement goes along ASL's morphological time line, which maps distant past, near past,
present, near future, and distant future onto a continuum along the sagittal (back-front) axis and is basic to time

Not surprisingly (in terms of ASL morphology), the sign has an antonym, differing only in the direction of the movement:
backwards (toward the signer). "PREPONE" was the logical gloss for this sign. I don't know how long it has been in use
among sign linguists and interpreters; it may have been already standard when I came to the field in 1975 or so.

I'm not putting this forward as an antedate or to force anyone to back down, and I don't see any evidence that the word
advanced into broader use from this cross-lingual background. But it is a usage, albeit limited, that has existed in the US
for decades.

-- Mark

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 796-0267
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :