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Phobia Phobia

You scare the daylights out of me!A post on An Entangled Bank recently opined: “I find someone has stuck the Latin sidus, sideris ‘star’ into the sausage machine and created siderophobia ‘fear of stars’. Now not only is there a much more familiar prefix astro-, which happens also to be Greek, but sidero- is Greek for ‘iron’. Siderophobia is a perfectly good word for ‘fear of iron’, but a rotten one for ‘fear of stars’.”

In fact, offending the author of this blog is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is a list of phobias circulating on the Web that unsuspecting folk are citing more and more widely. It originated with the Specific Phobias List at the website of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Edmonton Region, a noble effort to track down all known phobias and catalog those that have been treated.

The original list has its problems. Aside from siderophobia, it contains several silly concoctions, including snakephobia, with English snake tacked onto the Greek noun, gatophobia “fear of cats”, using the Spanish word for cats, and levophobia “fear of things on the left”, based on the Russian or Bulgarian levo “left”. (Actually, to the extent that phobia has become a stand-along noun in English, it may be fair game for English compounding, in which case snakephobia is no worse than snakeskin.)

As this list has passed from one website to another, typos have crept in, so that thassophobia “the fear of sitting” has been replaced by thaasophobia and myophobia, a misspelling of mysophobia “the fear of mice”, currently appears on 207 web pages.

Another problem with the list is the common misspelling of the connector vowel O or E which had to stand between the constituents of a Greek compound (I and U are rarely justified). Since unaccented O and A are pronounced the same in English, a lot of phobias contain an A where the O should be or an O where an E should stand (gynophobia despite the analogy in gynecology).

None of this would interest me except that these errors are spreading across the Web. Now that we all have become publishers, misinformation is out of control. I am developing a phobia for misinformation about words. So I have taken it upon myself to rework the CMHA list and polish it up a bit and upload it to our website at http://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/phobias.html.

One Response to “Phobia Phobia”

  1. Pat Says:

    Those of us in the phobia related world thank you for your efforts!! Good job!!

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