The opposite of postpone? [prepone?]

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  • insouciantguru

    Member
    India- English & Hindi
    You can have a different opinion, but you can't disagree that that's how I feel about it.

    I disagree with your view that postpone of itself contains a sense that it may never happen. In fact I think postpone means it will definitely happen, it does not imply a sense of "postponed indefinitely".

    I understand that unlike postponing an event preponing is constrained by the boundaries of time, but I fail to see why the need for a definite date is more pressing here than it is with postpone. When one says something is postponed it is just as important to clarify "when" this will happen so as to avoid the sense that the date is "as open-ended as the future ahead".

    In sum, the idea of "it is postponed but we don't know when" is no clearer than "it is preponed but we don't know when" in the absence of a date.

    Edited to add: As I stated in one of my prior posts that was deleted, I also think 'prepone', as an idea, is more 'understandable' if not yet altogether understood, than expressions like "move up" or "bring forward" that, for some, may carry an ambiguity as to whether the date is moving backward or forward in time.
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Prepone is not generally used at any level in my version of English.

    Having said that, a meeting that has been postponed may or may not happen in future. It may have been postponed to a specific date, or it may have been postponed with the intention of arranging a date in the future.
    A meeting that has been brought forward - or preponed - will surely have a specific date. I can't imagine a situation in which a meeting could be brought forward without there being a specific date.
    It would, of course, be possible to say that the meeting is going to be brought forward (preponed), expressing the intention rather than the fact.

    The question of understandability relates entirely to context. For those of us unfamiliar with "prepone", the word conveys no meaning. We have an established terminology for the occurrence.
    So just as insouciantguru is absolutely clear about prepone, but uncertain about move up or bring forward, so are those who routinely use bring forward absolutely clear about its meaning, and likely to be confused by prepone or move up.
     

    insouciantguru

    Member
    India- English & Hindi
    Prepone is not generally used at any level in my version of English.
    A meeting that has been brought forward - or preponed - will surely have a specific date. I can't imagine a situation in which a meeting could be brought forward without there being a specific date.
    It would, of course, be possible to say that the meeting is going to be brought forward (preponed), expressing the intention rather than the fact.

    It does happen in India <<chatspeak deleted>>. :) You could get a notice preponing a meeting date and only later get notice of the exact new "earlier date".

    I am not uncertain about move up and bring forward but I do think prepone is a much less ambiguous, and a more logical, precise and accurate word for conveying the idea. It is a one word antonym rather than paired-up terminology. I think it would make more "sense" to all second language speakers.
     
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    insouciantguru

    Member
    India- English & Hindi
    As an aside: Am I the only one who thinks that just because the word postpone offers the possibility that it may not happen does not mean it implies so? Shouldn't the word postpone imply a long-stop date and not, what in effect, is a cancellation?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Something that has occurred to cause a postponement may (or may not) end up resulting in cancellation. If a revised date is provided with the message of the postponement, it is clear that the event is still planned and expected to occur. When no revised date is provided, the possibility that the event will be cancelled remains open, whether implied or not. I would, if I heard "preponed" without a revised date, also leave open the possibility that event may simply be abandoned.

    As an aside, the term "long-stop date" is one I had to look up (it's a UK/BrE and possibly other non-AmE term) - in the US apparently, the term is "drop dead date". Another good example of "differences in established terminology" as panj noted above, where it is advisable to use the term your listener will be familiar with.
     

    Shiggity

    Member
    English, USA
    “Prepone” has already entered the Oxford dictionary. It is used daily and widely in the Indian subcontinent. It has also spread to Singapore and other Asian countries through Business English. Hopefully, it’s only a matter of time before the word catches on in the rest of the Anglosphere. :p

    So it's been several years since 2007, and I wouldn't have commented on this except that the most recent comments are relatively recent. :)

    I came back to the WordReference forum to try to improve my Spanish and recalled this thread and the argument of whether "prepone" is a word. I've grown up a bit since I last commented on this, but my take, in essence is this:

    - Whether a word is a "real" word is pretty subjective.
    - I indeed can't speak for every place on Earth where English is spoken, but no one I've asked about this in America is familiar with "prepone." Based on the aforementioned research, it's pretty unfamiliar to people outside of India and possibly (non-Indian) Asia.
    - Is the word logical? Yes. The opposite of postpone could logically be prepone. The opposite of exceed could logically be deceed. That said, I have a great fondness for English style and it is my native tongue, and I don't like you foreigners messing with it. ;) That's mostly tongue-in-cheek, of course, but if "prepone" caught on in the rest of the "Anglosphere" I think people like me would think it irritating because though logical, it isn't necessary (prefer "to move X forward" over "prepone X") and it wasn't a word that gained popularity in 'Murica. (Or inherited from England from pre-colonial times.) We only speak one language over here, so we are very overprotective of what we incorporate into it. :)

    My two cents.
     

    nodnol

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Postponed, the emphasis is often of 'not going ahead as planned', so it is often uncertain as to whether it will be reorganised.

    There may have been a problem that causes the event to not go ahead at the original date, and at the time when it is announced that the event has been postponed, it may be unclear that they will be able to ever overcome this problem and go ahead with the event.

    For this reason, I would generally avoid using the word postponed, and prefer to say, the meeting/the radio programme/ the match has been rescheduled for next week. It is like the famously mis-quoted: Houston, we have had a problem (not Houston, we have a problem); I personally would suggest that rescheduled might often sound more in-control and professional than postponed.

    as for preponed:

    By way of introduction, I'll say that I think a forum like this is great for sharing opinions, but I think it is slightly vain to imagine that one way or another, you can 'prove' something on a forum like this, and that afterwards the whole world will have to agree with what has been 'proved' here. Try telling me not to trust my judgement and I'll not really be interested. Try going to study at a British university, and try telling your native-English speaking professors that they need to visit some website that you have seen in order to learn how to use English; my guess is that they will probably not be interested. -- And I don't wish to suggest that this is becuase one variety of English is always superior to another, just that depending on context, one may be greatly preferred. For example, some English person may wish to learn the variety of English that is used by not-elite Indians, if she wishes to start a business in India with Indian colleagues, or if she wishes to do research in India which involves interviewing many ordinary Indians.

    Shakespeare invented many words which have become part of everyday English, and a lot of them were less logical than preponed. I am not againt new words entering te language. However, preponed sounds as if it was invented or popularised by people -- Indian or otherwise, it doesn't matter at all -- who have a limited knowledge of English, and have never been exposed to works of English literature or to discussion with a range of educated English speakers. It therefore seems suitable only for regional use.

    There are many perfectly logical words which are only used regionally, and within that region, they do not have a low status, they are not frowned upon. One such word is 'outwith': 'Our key trading partners, both in Europe and outwith Europe.' The thing is, if a BBC Radio 4 used 'outwith', I expect that listeners would only be puzzled, finding the word odd and archaic sounding (it is actually a commonly used Scotitsh word), whereas if they heared preponed, they would either laugh or they would cry at the fact that the respected radio station was abandonning good English.

    'Do-able' would have provoked a similar response from many listeniers ten years ago, and still would for some today. Part of the snobbery about 'doable' is that it became popular amongst businessmen. So the fact that prepone is used by many business people hardly makes it likely to be accepted more widely amongst all English speakers.


    -- For me, i think the only (Uk english) term is brought forward.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think it is slightly vain to imagine that one way or another, you can 'prove' something on a forum like this,
    Looking back over the posts, I think all that has been offered are opinions and information.
     

    nodnol

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Yes Paul Q, well said. I read the posts again and I'll agree with your point. By way of explanation, 'A forum like this' - I was partly thinking of one or two posts in this 50+ thread, but mainly thinking of discussions on other websites. So apologies, especially since what I said could easily be misunderstood.

    ...To be explicit, it was post #42 I was thinking of. But I'd say, while I subscribe to the idea that there is one or several versions of 'correct' English, I don't think anyone needs to be ashamed that they are outside this definition. There are not some sort of 'language police' who are going to lock up folk for not speaking standard English; everyone has a right to get on with their lives, and to make use of the English language to help them go about their everyday business. (Aren't I generous, I'm sure the whole world was waiting for me to give them permission to get on with their own lives. A Miss World canditate couldn't have said it better.)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    ...To be explicit, it was post #42 I was thinking of.
    #42's claim that "not liking something is not a valid criticism" is not clear. In what respect is it not a valid criticism? I do not like many words and constructions and for me that is valid. I'm sure you are the same: we have valid opinions where 'valid' is interpreted broadly.
    But I'd say, while I subscribe to the idea that there is one or several versions of 'correct' English, I don't think anyone needs to be ashamed that they are outside this definition.
    I must admit to some disappointment that you even consider that a person's normal language, as spoken by his people, should be a source of shame. I can find no support for this in the posts above, other than #42 where the poster seems to be missing the point.

    This forum uses and promotes AE, BE and International English, although I remember threads on other varieties including Indian English and Scots English. Most of the people asking questions wish to be understood, not only amongst native speakers of AE, and BE but also amongst each other when using English as a lingua-franca.
    There is not some sort of 'language police' who are going to lock up folk for not speaking standard English;
    Various countries do have such institutions: the English speaking world is fortunately not one of them. To my mind, the best a lexicographer can do is record; he cannot influence the evolution of language.
    everyone has a right to get on with their lives, and to make use of the English language to help them go about their everyday business.
    And that is what WRF attempts to do. To give readers that lingua-franca.

    Indian English does have currency where Indian culture has spread. It is usually not too far removed from AE and BE. However, compared with AE, and BE, this spread is small and advice and opinion are given here towards maximum common comprehensibility.

    It is in this light that the use of "prepone" is not presently advised: this has no grounding in a poor regard for any other sort of English.

    Here's a sentence for you in a form of English: Dem dey go chop rais*. This is perfectly valid, but unhelpful to most English speakers if they wish to know what has happened.


    *Nigerian Pidgin English: =They are going there to eat rice.

    This seems to be straying from the topic. Perhaps a Mod might move it to The Culture Cafe" or a suitable forum.
     

    nodnol

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Re 'shame', I was largely thinking of my experiences with French speakers. The matter is probably different in each culture. I know very little on the subject, but maybe Australians and Americans are more open than some European cultures to adopting phrases from people who live or work among them, and as I've stated, my feeling is that British speakers would not embrace prepone.

    Ps And i'll briefly continue my ideas about the status of languages: many former colonies have works of literature written in their own version of English, often in dialogue with the many centuries old English literary tradition. But can there ever be real poetry written in a language called 'International English?' (I can cite a thinker who says that there is no such language.)
     
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    Cyborg009

    New Member
    Portuguese
    Can't we use "anticipate" or "antecipate" as the opposite for "postpone"?
    In Portuguese(brazilian), "antecipar" is the opposite for "postpone".
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    "A postpones B" means "A changes the schedule, so that B will happen later than originally planned."

    The opposite is "A makes B happen at its planned time."

    "A anticipates B" means "A knows that B is going to happen, before everyone else knows." That has nothing to do with changing the schedule of B, so can't be the "opposite of postpone".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Can't we use "anticipate" or "antecipate" as the opposite for "postpone"?
    In Portuguese(brazilian), "antecipar" is the opposite for "postpone".
    anticipate - WordReference.com Dictionary of English

    However: your false friend "to anticipate" was used in English 500 years ago in the sense of (BrzPt) "antecipar":

    From Etymonline anticipate | Origin and meaning of anticipate by Online Etymology Dictionary
    1530s, "to cause to happen sooner," a back-formation from anticipation, or else from Latin anticipatus, past participle of anticipare "take (care of) ahead of time," literally "taking into possession beforehand," from anti, an old form of ante "before" (from PIE root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before") + capere "to take," from PIE root *kap- "to grasp."

    Later "prevent or preclude by prior action" (c. 1600) and "be aware of (something) coming at a future time" (1640s). Used in the sense of "expect, look forward to" since 1749, but anticipate has an element of "prepare for, forestall" that, etymologically, should prevent its being used as a synonym for "expect".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    A postpones B" means "A changes the schedule, so that B will happen later than originally planned."

    The opposite is "A makes B happen at its planned time."
    No, that is not "opposite". The opposite of delaying a meeting is to bring the meeting forward in time, by which I mean to a time or date earlier than originally planned. That is the meaning of "prepone". The word has existed for a long time, but it is rare indeed outside India.
     

    pbweill

    Member
    English-USA
    In my context I am going with "rescheduled for an earlier time". My English is American, and I hear "moved forward" or "brought forward" as acceptable, but I wouldn't use "pulled forward".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    As an AE speaker, I tend to use and hear "moved up" or "pulled forward" or simply "rescheduled."

    Elisabetta
    "Rescheduled" would be my first choice, though it could be rescheduled to an earlier date too. So I might say, "rescheduled; date and time to be advised."
     

    EdisonBhola

    Senior Member
    Korean
    This discussion has been added to a previous thread.
    Note: At the time EdisonBhola posted this, for some reason, the dictionary search was not returning any threads for 'prepone'. He may have made the search required by Rule 1 and not found the previous thread.
    Cagey, moderator


    Hi all,

    Is there a word in English that has an opposite meaning to "postpone"?

    For instance, I could say "postpone a lesson from Monday to Tuesday", but what if I need to move it from Tuesday to Monday instead, i.e. one day earlier?

    Many thanks! :)
     
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    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Indian English has, I am told, the word 'prepone', to cover exactly this, but this is not standard English. Standard English might use 'advance' here, or 'move the date up". Or "move the date forward"
     
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    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    The absolutely legitimate, incredibly useful Indian English word you’re not using
    While most English speakers in South Asia are familiar with the word prepone, its use will still draw blank looks elsewhere. Even in India, many well-read, well-travelled intellectuals wouldn’t be caught dead using it, unless in jest. But there isn’t really any other word in the English language that can qualify as a respectable synonym.

    For the uninitiated, prepone means to bring something forward to an earlier date or time. Or very simply, it is the opposite of postpone.
    The article notes that the OED dates it to a puritan in the 16th century, but it has vanished from standard English.
     

    Leeeroy

    Senior Member
    Polish - Poland
    For instance, I could say "postpone a lesson from Monday to Tuesday", but what if I need to move it from Tuesday to Monday instead, i.e. one day earlier?

    Accelerate was my first thought when I saw the title of the thread.

    Having read your example, I'm tempted to recommend the word reschedule though, which conveniently covers both pre- and postponing.
     

    F456

    New Member
    Great Britain, English
    In British English the only normal phrase is 'brought forward'. Prepone etc would raise eyebrows across all generations; they would assume you were trying to be funny. The opposite i.e. synonym for 'postpone' is 'put back'.

    I disagree with Copyright; as insouciantguru says above 'postpone' does not suggest it will never happen (even though in practice that may be the decider's hope).
     

    F456

    New Member
    Great Britain, English
    'Accelerate' rings an alarm as unidiomatic but then you did say that was just what first came to mind. 'Reschedule' works well but none of the suggestions equals or surpasses 'brought forward' in my experience.
     

    oakleaf

    Senior Member
    english - united states
    Since the primary motive for words is to communicate an idea, I think "move forward" could easily be taken to mean "forward in the calendar", therefore postponed even more. It's often really tempting to try to replace a one-word way of saying something in another language with a one-word way of saying it in one's own, but communicating the idea is the main need. "The meeting will be moved to an earlier date" is very clear.
    There are many forms of English, and where i work there is a sign that says "how to handwash" put out by the WHO and posted over the sinks. It might be some local way of saying "wash hands", but "handwash" seems to me to be a noun, and a very strange one at that. Being put out by the UN it could be international-consultant English, or some one of many forms of English used around the world. But perhaps it would be better to use "How to wash your hands" (or "how to wash hands" if space is an issue). I love the fact that English is spoken in many ways around the world, and love that it's a mixture of Germanic and Romance languages. As some linguist said "a dialect is just a language without an army and a navy" - but if I'm trying to write for an international audience or for a particular country, i would use the more standard and less unusual forms if my goal is to communicate.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It might be some local way of saying "wash hands", but "handwash" seems to me to be a noun, and a very strange one at that.
    Not actually relevant to the topic of this thread, but the verb "hand-wash" has been used since at least 1814, and the combined form "handwash" is in a 1990 citation in the OED. A quick glance at a Google Books search finds the verb used as early as 1863. The same search finds the noun used in 1885. I don't see why you think it strange - a "handwash" is a substance that is used for washing by hand or for washing hands - the context indicates which meaning is intended.

    I agree that "move forward" may be misunderstood, but the common "brought forward" used in BE does not have that potential confusion.
     

    F456

    New Member
    Great Britain, English
    I agree entirely with Andygc, who wrote 'I agree that "move forward" may be misunderstood, but the common "brought forward" used in BE does not have that potential confusion.'

    Though we talk of going back in time to the past and going forward in time to the future, "brought forward" is universally understood in British English to mean a bringing closer to the present. This is because the word "bring" in English is used for moving something closer, whether in time or space. This is slightly different from the German usage of "bringen", where the verb is also used in the sense of "take" (wir bringen Petra ins Krankenhaus = we are taking Petra to the hospital). You wouldn't write that you are bringing her to the hospital unless it was where you lived yourself.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I agree entirely with Andygc, who wrote 'I agree that "move forward" may be misunderstood, but the common "brought forward" used in BE does not have that potential confusion.'

    You wouldn't write that you are bringing her to the hospital unless it was where you lived yourself.
    Many people in the US use bring exactly like that (where I and, I think, most BE speakers would use take), so using "bring forward" may still be ambiguous to them.
     

    F456

    New Member
    Great Britain, English
    Many people in the US use bring exactly like that (where I and, I think, most BE speakers would use take), so using "bring forward" may still be ambiguous to them.
    Interesting. I enjoy these differences between (and among) languages.
     

    goldenband

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Strong preference here for "moved up", though usually in the formulation "moved up to [date]". "Prepone" is a fun idea but seems almost like a joke or play on words, not a term I'd expect to see used in serious business communication.

    "Moved forward" or "brought forward" aren't intuitive to me as an AmE speaker. I expect "move forward" to refer to taking action on a plan, and "brought forward" to refer to information newly introduced to a discussion. I'd probably understand the usage but would prefer "moved up [to X]" in my own communication.
     

    F456

    New Member
    Great Britain, English
    It depends also on the english speaking county. In the United States brought forward and preponed are very unusual. Advanced is ok, but pushed forward to or pushed up to are better.
    Interestingly, of the American English examples you mention only 'brought forward' is used in British English — to the best of my knowledge at any rate. Here, as with you, 'prepone' is pretty much a non-word, at least one you would probably apologize for with a phrase such as 'as it were' or 'so to speak'. 'Pushed forward' and 'pushed up' would sound a little unnatural — and I'm not saying that judgementally. More just to say it would not be an expected phrasing, unless I am completely out of touch!
     

    AmericanAbroad

    Member
    American English
    You could also say, The meeting has been moved up. Although, if we are going to get VERY correct about some of these usages, the more precise phrasing might be "The TIME of the meeting has been moved up." And, "The TIME of the meeting has been brought forward." Whereas, by way of contrast, you would not say, "The time of the meeting was postponed". You would only say, "The meeting was postponed."
     

    AmericanAbroad

    Member
    American English
    But if you looked through this thread, you would find that BE speakers don't move meetings up, so it all depends on who "You" is. They (BE speakers) also don't advance their meetings, so correctness is a regional variable.
    They may not "advance" meetings, but I would be very surprised if they never "advance the time" of a meeting, or "move up the time" or "move up the date" of a meeting in their schedules. That is why I brought up the precision in wording as making a difference. Of course I could be wrong, but I would need to hear that from more than one speaker of a different region.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    but I would be very surprised if they never "advance the time" of a meeting, or "move up the time" or "move up the date" of a meeting
    Be very surprised then. If you told me that you were advancing the time of a meeting I would:
    1. Assume you were not a native English speaker.
    2. Assume that you were changing the meeting to a later time.

    But if some other AE speakers tell me that this is normal AE usage, I'd withdraw 1.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    American English (New England and NYC)
    I've heard 'move up' but not 'advance,' to my knowledge, in the US. The problem with 'advance' is that it's ambiguous; one doesn't know if it means 'move forward toward now' or 'move forward unto the future.'
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    They may not "advance" meetings, but I would be very surprised if they never "advance the time" of a meeting, or "move up the time" or "move up the date" of a meeting in their schedules. That is why I brought up the precision in wording as making a difference. Of course I could be wrong, but I would need to hear that from more than one speaker of a different region.
    As Andygc says, we do not use these phrases. We do not "advance the time" of a meeting, or "move up the time" or "move up the date" of meetings. These are American expressions which are not generally used outside the US and Canada. I don't really understand why you would find this fact so surprising.
     
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