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Etymology of the word "prequel"

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    Can anyone add anything about the etymology of the word prequel beyond what I say below? A friend just E-mailed me that it s being discussed on another
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 5, 2005
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      Can anyone add anything about the etymology of the word "prequel" beyond
      what I say below? A friend just E-mailed me that it's being discussed on
      another mailing list. A person on that mailing list claims that it was invented by
      Tolkien himself. (Um, this person is also on this mailing list, so my
      apologies for bringing this discussion here, but I don't see any other way to
      resolve this question.) The first citation in the OED is from 1973. It seems
      pretty clear to me that the word was invented to describe the relationship of
      _The Silmarillion_ to _The Lord of the Rings_ (as a work published later but
      set earlier in the narrative). One of the citations in the OED is from a 1977
      newspaper article where it's claimed that Tolkien himself created the word,
      but I don't believe it. Does anyone have a citation from Tolkien in which he
      uses the word? I don't believe he did for two reasons. The first is that,
      if the OED had found a mention of the word by Tolkien, they surely would have
      included it in their entry on the word. The second is that the word is two
      Latin words smushed together in a way that no one as knowledgeable about
      languages as Tolkien was would ever do.

      Wendell Wagner


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    • Stolzi
      ... From: ... have ... two ... Yep, it s sequel from the Latin word, sequela, with the prefix pre smushed into it. Doctors talk
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 5, 2005
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        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <WendellWag@...>

        > if the OED had found a mention of the word by Tolkien, they surely would
        have
        > included it in their entry on the word. The second is that the word is
        two
        > Latin words smushed together in a way that no one as knowledgeable about
        > languages as Tolkien was would ever do.
        >

        Yep, it's "sequel" from the Latin word, "sequela," with the prefix "pre"
        smushed into it. Doctors talk about the "sequelae" of an illness, for
        example. This noun would come from "sequi," Latin for "follow."

        If Tolkien had made up the word he would have thought of it (and apologized
        for it) as a ham-handed philologist's joke. Or so istm.

        Diamond Proudbrook
      • Wayne G. Hammond
        Wendell, ... Wayne [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 5, 2005
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          Wendell,

          I wrote to this list on 6 January 2003:

          >David [Bratman] wrote:
          >
          > >Other citations from 1977-79 apply the term to _The Silmarillion_ (in a
          > >newspaper article claiming that Tolkien coined the word, which isn't true)
          > >and _Butch and Sundance: The Early Years_.
          >
          >Tolkien didn't invent "prequel", but he encountered the word in August
          >1967, in an unpublished letter to him from Donald Fry (editor of _The
          >Beowulf Poet_), where it refers to _The Silmarillion_. Fry wrote that he
          >had heard that Tolkien was working on a sequel, or (punning) was it a
          >prequel? to _The Lord of the Rings_. Tolkien used the word himself in a
          >reply, but nowhere else in his letters that I recall, and it hardly seems
          >possible that any general use of the word could have come from this private
          >exchange.

          Wayne


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