What is the most frequent use in Italian of the English loan retcon? Do we use it more masculine or feminine? And why?

The question arose about a week ago when we posted the article on the New Year's special of Doctor Who. In fact, in the comments on our group, The Shipwrecked of Atlantis, discussions began about retcon to the plot and lore of the series. In this discussion, our Seeker S wrote "the retcon", while another user wrote "the retcon".

Eventually, I was summoned into this thread by another user to answer a question: but in Italian, retcon is it masculine or feminine?

Personally, I have always said “la retcon”, but the question made me very curious and so I went to do a little investigation. So, in this article we will see the results of this survey: in the written use on the internet, therefore, do we say more “la retcon” or “il retcon”?

Important premise: the genre of English loans in Italian

As those who follow us will know, this is not the only linguistic article we have written on English loans in Italian. In fact, we have already talked about the Italian grammatical genre of loans like quickstart e hack.

On both of these occasions, we started the article by remembering how it works the assignment of grammatical gender to English loans in Italian. Here we report the brief explanation, but if you want to deepen the question you can read this article from the Accademia della Crusca.

I quote from the article about the hack:

As we have said in other articles, theassignment of the Italian grammatical genre to English words does not follow precise rules. [...]

Hence, there is no rule that commands us to give to car the genre of its Italian translation, cars. Dictionaries, when they finally put an English loan in their ranks, attribute it to the genre with which it is most commonly used. It is the use, therefore, not a rule (which does not exist!) That determines the final grammatical gender of an English loan. It is the use that causes most British loans to receive the masculine default. But it is always the use that causes some loans to receive the kind of word they would be translated by.

So no, theoretically there is no rule that obliges us to say "the retcon" or "the retcon", nor one genre that is inherently more correct than the other. In the case of retcon entered Italian dictionaries, grammarians will register it with the grammatical gender most frequently attributed to it by speakers, which will therefore become the official gender of the term.

One of the most talked about retcons is the existence of the Palpatine clones in The Rise of Skywalker
One of the most discussed retcons is the existence of the Palpatine ne clones The Rise of Skywalker

What is meant by retcon?

From what it explains Wikipedia, retcon is an English word that comes from the term retroactive continuity, Namely retroactive continuity.

La retcon, therefore, it is a narrative expedient with which previously outlined facts are modified or ignored in a work. We can talk about retcon under different circumstances. One of them is when missing details are added to events described in the past to explain future events. It is therefore one retcon for addition the secret cloning of Palpatine ne Skywalker's rise. Another type of retcon occurs when information is added that contradicts previous events, such as when a character believed dead turns out to be still alive. Phil Coulson died in The Avengers and revealed himself alive in the series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it is therefore one retcon by alteration. Finally, there are the retcon by subtraction, where previously published items are deleted from continuity or ignored. This is the well-known case of the third X-Men film, canceled by X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The term retroactive continuity it has been in use since the early XNUMXs and the first written example is from 1983, referring to a retcon happened in the DC Comics comic All-Star Squadron. The contraction in retcon it seems to have happened later e it would seem that the first use of the term was made by computer scientist Damian Cugley in 1988, on Usenet.

retcon is currently used not only as name, But also as verb (to retcon) to indicate the process of reviewing and changing the continuity of a work. Furthermore, this term can also be used to indicate not only the narrative gimmick, but also an entire work published with the intent of revising the past facts of a franchise. More information on the term can be found retcon in Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels.

The Italian use: the retcon or retcon?

Currently, the term retcon it also entered the Italian usage as loan from English. It has not yet been registered in our dictionaries, but I believe that in the next ten years we will see it appear.

Use on news sites and forums: almost parity

With a Google search, the female use of retcon stands at 1.170 results, while the male one has 1.280. Looking more deeply at the results, we see that both uses are present both on information sites and on discussion forums.

Generally, each writer adopts either the masculine or the feminine form in a rather rigid way, without changing the gender of the term in the course of his writing. However, we see the coexistence of masculine and feminine in various discussions on forums or on Facebook, in which different users respectively use "the retcon" or "the retcon", without adapting to the use that others make of it:

User 1: All the notions on potara introduced in Super are obvious retorts with we might as well not comment on them.
User 2: [...] And I find the "retcon" on potara satisfactory [...]

Quotes from a 2018 conversation from the forum Dragon Ball Multiverse

In general, it appears that on news sites and forums this term coexists in both its masculine and feminine forms. Their usage percentages, based on Google results (which, let's remember, however, have a lot of noise!) Are: 47% use of the female form against 53% use of the male form.

Use on Facebook groups

I then went to check the uses of the term on several Facebook groups, finding a very different situation. The controlled groups are: The throne of Muori, I play role, Crew X of Darkbeard X, Insolent Droids e And to you if you stayed with Harry right to the very end II.
In total, the term retcon has been used 125 times, of which 90 for men (72%) and 35 for women (28%).

In this case, however, the retcon on the death of axel is not only clear
In your opinion, between Akira Toriyama and Jk Rowling who is the worst at making narrative retcon and inventing things after years of coming out of their works?

then keep spamming retcons and errors
is a retcon not even so serious that of the lap time

All those cases in which it was not possible to define the gender of the term were excluded from the count, as in the following cases:

the truth is that Harry Potter is full of holes and retcons
Horcruxes are one of the most famous retcon elements of the entire saga

In general, these percentages don't change too much from group to group, although some groups tend to talk a lot more about the topic than others. For example, 46 instances of retcon in The Throne of the Dead (87% male and 13% female) and 49 in Insolent Droids (69% male and 31% female)

Finally, from a small survey conducted on The Shipwrecked of Atlantis still different percentages emerged. In fact, out of 42 voters, 25 (59%) use the term in the feminine, against 13 (31%) who use the masculine, 3 (7%) who use both the masculine and the feminine and one user (3%) who use non-standard neutral the retcon. In contrast, another poll on Throne of the Die shows opposite percentages, corresponding to those seen above. In fact, out of 46 people voting, as many as 38 (83%) use male "retcon", against 6 people (13%) who use it as female and a single person (3%) who uses it in a somewhat neutral way.

X-Men - Days of Future Past is a huge retcon of X-Men - Final Conflict
X-Men - Days of a past future is a huge retcon of X-Men - Final Conflict

Hypothesis on the use of retcon

Probably, the large presence of retcon used in the feminine on news sites is due to the fact that often the articles that mention this term also take the time to explain its meaning. Therefore, most of these sites cites the definition given by Italian Wikipedia, which introduces the term by saying “la retcon”.

Instead, the predominantly male use of the term on Facebook groups could stem from several factors. First of all, users are probably influenced by the fact that a large part of British loans take male as an Italian genre, thus adapting to the most common use in our language. Secondly, it is possible that the audience on the Il Trono del Muori group is influenced by the fact that the youtuber around which the group is born, Cesyro (aka The throne of Muori), use retcon both in his comments on the group (see the capitalized example above) and (if I remember correctly) in his videos.

From the comments on the survey on The Shipwrecked of Atlantis, then, even further assumptions can be made. In fact, some users who use the feminine claim to prefer this gender because influenced by the translation of retroactive continuity (retroactive continuity).

The derivative retconned

A minor part of the Italian users use the term retconned to refer to the act of making one retcon, as in this fantasy example:

The new trilogy is a retconnata

In this sense, retconned is a derivative of retcon and it is female. The use of the derivative suffix -ata it is not surprising, since this suffix is ​​one of the most productive in contemporary Italian.

The actual meaning of retconned, however, it could change depending on the actual term from which it derives, ie if directly from the English verb to retcon or from the loan retcon (which, regardless of gender, is always a noun). Following this article e this thesis of the linguist Ilaria Fiorentini, we can hypothesize that retconned is used with the following meanings:

  • Hasty and summary act, if derived from a verb. In this case, retconned would be similar to words such as settled, dusted, fixed or ironed. Given the general critical or negative meaning it tends to have retcon in this period, this option is by no means to be excluded;
  • A typical action, if derived from name. In this case, retconned it would be built in the same way as ass, baby girl, paparazzi, bullshit or bullshit. This hypothesis is particularly likely, since nouns derived in -ata with this meaning they tend to be inserted in periphrasis with the verb to do (eg: "whatever shit you did"; "they really did a retconnata").

Retconnata it has been found 3 times higher in the groups seen above.

He doesn't ask Rowling, thinks the shitty retconnata that can come out.
I also give credit to this one, come on, they can never make a retconnata like that
it could easily have been a retconnata

The fact that Nagini was a Maledictus is one of the biggest retcons in the Harry Potter saga
The fact that Nagini was a Maledictus is one of the biggest retcons in the saga of Harry Potter

The verb network

Finally, we cannot fail to say a few words about another Italian derivative of retcon, that is the verb network. Formed as per standard with the suffix -are (the only productive in Italian), this verb indicates the action of using the narrative expedient of retroactive continuity.

In the groups seen above, network is situated 70 times higher and counts the highest number of appearances on the Insolent Droids and The Throne of the Dead groups. Most instances of this verb are atinfinite present (network), with 26 occurrences (37%), sometimes also in the form of a substantive infinitive, as can be seen below.

Rethinking deaths is becoming a trend

The second most common form is that of indicative present perfect, with 23 occurrences (33%). This prevalence is not surprising, given that the present perfect is the most used form of the past in neo-standard Italian. Although the recent past is increasingly supplanting times like the distant past, we have an occurrence of network in the latter time, as seen below.

unlike JJ who totally retconned Rian's film
(I was there when Lucas retconnected the Mandalorians)

We also have 8 cases (11%) of network al simple present and 9 other cases (13%) in which we see the verb al past participle. Here are two examples:

And in my opinion they reconnect the birth of Anakin.
some thought it was Rowling retconned stuff

Finally, we also have a single case of network al imperfect subjunctive, used as an exhortative in the proper way of many varieties of southern Italian.


Do I also have to say that obviously this example is from Cesyro?

Two conclusive words

retcon it seems to be a loan from English which is gradually gaining ground in Italian as well. In this process, retcon it is also giving birth to several derivatives, among which the verb certainly stands out network.

In this landscape, we see a general trend of Facebook users to use retcon as a name male. In contrast, several news sites (probably influenced by Wikipedia) continue to use the female.

For the moment, therefore, we are facing a situation that is still very much mobile devices, In which the retcon e the retcon they are still competing. However, the daily use of most users suggests that this term could stabilize on the masculine. It is also not excluded, however, that for some time there will be a double use of retcon: one for women by information sites and one for men by general users.