14 May 2006

Phobia of phobias: a hate crime

After looking at our CBC photographs sent by a writer-friend from B.C., we thought we would appeal to our readers, assuming, of course, there are any. Most of the compounds in English that express a state or attitude of hatred or loathing end in “-phobia” which really means “a fear of or an aversion to.” We need a stronger declarative suffix. Is there an apter ending that expresses “hatred of” or “dislike of” than “antipatho” or “apatheia”? “Photophobia” as “photoantipatho(s)” has a charm and a rhythm of its own but the adjective “photoantipathetic” sounds awkward and there may be issues of vowel disharmonies & c. Using μίσος, έχθρα for “hatred” and “μισητός,” “αξιομίσητος” for “hateful” yield unfamiliar compounds as does “andia/e” in what is presumably Attic, not dhimotiki.

Other Indo-European languages are not English-friendly for compound-making either. Monier-Williams presents from the Sanskrit the interesting but unusable “acyutarus” (inveterate hatred), “atithidvesa” (hatred of guests, inhospitality) which describes our state during periods of enforced report writing, even “baddhadvesa” (entertaining hatred) presumably directed at politicians south of the border. There are “brahmadvesa” (hatred of sacred knowledge) and “anuzaya” the masculine form of which expresses hatred or intense enmity whereas the feminine substantive refers, fittingly, to a boil on the head or, more puzzlingly, to a disease of the foot. Everyone ought to be familiar with “karyapradvesa” (hatred of work) and must have succumbed to “udyudh,” to “bubble up” (as water) in hatred or enmity, once or twice. “Virodhin” can mean enmity or hatred but also “the restiveness of a horse.” (In this frolicsome spirit, we skip the Sanskrit for “dislike” in case we bubble over some more madly entertaining words).

Perhaps some Latinists, Farsi scholars, or other linguophiles, can send in their suggestions. It’s hard to live with a phobophobe, someone with fear and loathing of phobias in any language.

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