Saturday, May 26, 2007

Playing With The Language

I love the English language. I've loved it since I was two years old, learning the alphabet from a bottle of Mt. Rose Milk in Reno -- since I was three, reading "Peppy, The Lonely Little Puppy" which now lays at the bottom of a trunk filled with childhood detritus -- and since I was five, being sneaked into first grade by my mom, who had changed the date on my birth certificate. The math and social skills given to other kids completely passed me by, but I did get a double scoop of language ability, thank you very much.

The Internet is both a boon and bane for the English language. Even though many bemoan the diminished production of print media, I suspect we're reading more than ever. Unless you only check You Tube and play video games, you're reading on the Internet -- which also means someone is writing.

Some of the shortcuts and degradation of the language make me crazy -- usually written by the high school and middle school crowd who use "textspeak" online as they do with the cell phones that have been grafted to their palms. And you really can't hang out in a chat room for more than five minutes without some Lothario sending you the seductive instant message "wut r u waring." O be still my heart.

For an English aficionado who has alphabet soup in her veins, reading Internet content can often be painful, where grammar goes on Strunk & White safari, spelling (even with electronic spellcheckers, for God's sake) pushes the creative envelope, and punctuation follows no known conventions. Still, breezing through the blogosphere the other day I came across two marvelous collections: A list of phobias and a dictionary of collective nouns. This time, really, be still my heart.

I'll let you enjoy the collectives on your own -- they are original, charming and hilarious. I'm going to tackle the meatier phobias.

It seems that for every possible human condition there is an associated fear. Who knew someone could actually be afraid of the figure 8?

The person who compiled this list did not indicate whether these are actual diagnoses made in a clinical setting, or if they are simply word constructs. Given our current penchant to find a psychosis now where individuality used to be celebrated, I personally suspect the overeager clinician.... but, whatever.

I myself have had a touch of dentophobia - fear of dentists, and even mottephobia - fear of moths. I think that, particularly in election years, we all have a brush with politicophobia - fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.

If I were really attuned to politically correct speech, I wouldn't dare call your attention to the following phobias in case, by some wild chance, a victim of one might possibly read this and be offended or psychologically damaged beyond repair.

Too bad. I happen to believe that PC language is one of the worst bastardizations of English that has occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries, so I will list some and I will not apologize for doing so. Besides... some of these are really funny.
  • Alliumphobia- Fear of garlic.
  • Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions.
  • Anuptaphobia- Fear of staying single.
  • Arachibutyrophobia- Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.
  • Arithmophobia- Fear of numbers.
  • Aulophobia- Fear of flutes.
  • Auroraphobia- Fear of Northern lights.
  • Autodysomophobia- Fear of one that has a vile odor.
  • Automatonophobia- Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsely represents a sentient being.
  • Bolshephobia- Fear of Bolsheviks.
  • Bogyphobia- Fear of bogeys or the bogeyman.
  • Caligynephobia- Fear of beautiful women.
  • Carnophobia- Fear of meat.
  • Chaetophobia- Fear of hair.
  • Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.
  • Dentophobia- Fear of dentists.
  • Euphobia- Fear of hearing good news.
  • Genuphobia- Fear of knees.
  • Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia- Fear of the number 666.
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words. (Irony?)
  • Lachanophobia- Fear of vegetables.
  • Lutraphobia- Fear of otters.
  • Octophobia - Fear of the figure 8.
  • Panophobia or Pantophobia- Fear of everything.
  • Papaphobia- Fear of the Pope.
  • Pentheraphobia- Fear of mother-in-law. (Novercaphobia)
  • Phobophobia- Fear of phobias.
  • Politicophobia- Fear or abnormal dislike of politicians.
  • Porphyrophobia- Fear of the color purple.
  • Pteronophobia- Fear of being tickled by feathers.
  • Pupaphobia - Fear of puppets.
  • Symbolophobia- Fear of symbolism.
  • Verbophobia- Fear of words.
  • Walloonphobia- Fear of the Walloons.
Some of my favorites were missing from the complete list:
  • Britnyophobia - Fear of American pop culture
  • Charminophobia - Fear of running out of toilet tissue
  • Oshaphobia - Fear of the "ding, ding, ding" on backups.
  • Fivedollarophobia - Fear of the price of a gallon of gas and a cup of Starbucks being equal
  • Atkinsophobia - Fear of carbohydrates
  • Pritikinophobia - Fear of butter
  • Speedophobia - Fear of not fitting into last year's swimsuit
  • TheViewophobia - Fear of having to ever watch Rosie again
  • Sixtysecondophobia - Fear of DVR breakdown and having to watch commercials
  • .... and my personal favorite: Caninedishabiliophobia - Fear of undressing in front of my dog.

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