Wednesday, July 04, 2012



New words from dead languages appear to be tricky. Whoever thought up any of the following was a linguistic moron:

Homophobia is misconceived from ancient Greek, literally means 'same' (όμοιος) and 'fear' (φόβος). This is supposed to mean hatred of homosexuals but it doesn't even come close. Hatred in ancient Greek is μίσος, as in misogynist or misanthrope. And the Greek word for 'same' does not convey that the sameness is only about sexual preference. A better Greek word for homosexual would be ἀρσενοκοίτης (See 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10). But I admit misarsenokoites is pretty long and difficult to pronounce. Perhaps we could coin a Latin neologism except that there doesn't appear to be a Latin word for homosexual. Hmm. So all I have is criticism and no real solution. Best I can do is misomalalos (sticking with the New Testament), but that's not very satisfying either. There definitely is a problem with forming a Latin or Greek neologism regarding the love that dare not say its name.

Islamophobia has the same problem because fear does not equal hatred. They are separate concepts and accordingly separate words. Islam is neither Greek nor Latin so this is the worst sort of neologism, one which mixes modern and ancient in inaccurate ways (Likewise homosexual is Greek for 'same' followed by Latin for 'gender' and I won't even mention the misapprehension that the 'homo' in the word is derived from the Latin for 'man').

Feminazi is funny but it too mixes modern 'nazi' (20th Century slang for the National Socialist and German Worker's Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ) which the Germans shortened to NSDAP--
Nazi emphasized the first two words 'national' and 'socialist' and appears to have been used before the party actually formed) with the Latin 'femina' (woman). Although strident feminists indeed bring to mind at least the intolerance of the murderous German fascists, we should only call actual nazis 'nazis' and not make fun of the feminists who, after all, are merely a casualty of their success.


Maybe you should get over your neologiphobia :P
I know. I'm sounding like an English teacher.
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