The phony concept is a combination of funny and own. The syntax is phony X by Y, defined as "some people do X and some people do Y, such that as many people as possible do X without crashing".
- [2FL] C3Acouples twosome circulate: phony split circulate by crossover circulate
- [inverted lines] C4cross walk & dodge: phony walk & dodge by split trade circulate
- [facing lines] C3Bfinish scramble: phony press in by turn thru
- [facing couples] C4fan thru to a wave: phony trail off by veer left
Here's an extremely unreasonable example: "phony chain reaction, turn the star 1/2 by little" from this formation.
Everyone does their part of a chain reaction, turn the star 1/2 (with partner hinge and facing star) except the outside facing out, who does a little. It ends in right hand two faced lines.
This concept was inspired by the call "own those who get the joke, split circulate by split phantom lines trade" from the following formation, jokingly proposed by Pi Fisher.
"Those who get the joke" refers to the people who would move on a funny split circulate. (This is a reference to the pair of callbacks to funny: "ha" if you move and "I don't get it" if you don't.) In this case, it's the four dancers in the top left and bottom right quadrants. So they do a split circulate, and the others do a "flippy slim down" motion to end in a pinwheel formation.
Seeing this, I had a different, even more nefarious idea: "own those who get the joke 'split circulate', partner trade by split circulate". Now the people who would not move on "funny split circulate" in fact do a split circulate, and the people who would move don't do it and instead do a (phantom) partner trade. This ends in another 2x4 with everyone moved one spot clockwise in their box.
I then also thought of a much better name for this: "own the giant alien spiders, split circulate by partner trade". Here "giant alien spiders" refers to the people who don't get the joke, because giant alien spiders are, famously, no joke.
Finally, this gave rise to the phony concept, devised and named by Della Hendrickson. In particular, the last example is the same as "phony split circulate by reverse swap around".