April 28th, 2010

grammar

Illogical English language is illogical

One word that has always confused me as to its etymological roots is "homophobia". From dictionary.reference.com's definition of phobia:

pho·bi·a   [foh-bee-uh]
–noun
a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.


I can intellectually understand arachnophobia and many/most of the other phobias on the list as much as anyone can who does not suffer from a phobia - my nearest fear to phobia is that of the nasty evil "stings for pleasure" (in my mind at least) and suffers no long term ill effects wasp, unlike the "stings once as a last resort and then dies" honeybee or bumblebee.

What I can't get my head around is how the suffix "phobia" is, in the context of homophobia, used to describe hate, revulsion and violence as opposed to fear. Homophobia-related crimes are hate crimes. Not fear crimes. I wish we would use more apt words for things and so tell it how truly is instead of couching it within terms that try to make the aggressors sounds like terrified victims.

Being homosexual is not a "lifestyle choice", it is as inborn as eye-colour and as impossible to change. We may as well hate people with dark hair, dark skin and non-blue eyes. Oh. Wait…

Further down the dictionary.reference.com page:

Word Origin & History
phobia
1786, "fear, horror, aversion," Mod.L., abstracted from compounds in -phobia, from Gk. -phobia, from phobos "fear," originally "flight" (still the only sense in Homer), but it became the common word for "fear" via the notion of "panic, fright" (cf. phobein "put to flight, frighten"), from PIE base *bhegw- "to run" (cf. Lith. begu "to flee," O.C.S. begu "flight," bezati "to flee, run," O.N. bekkr "a stream"). Psychological sense attested by 1895; phobic (adj.) is from 1897.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper


Also:

an exaggerated and often disabling fear


Oh, if only homophobia did disable the homophobes as a true phobia might. The other sense that I have seen the suffixes '-phobe' and its opposite '-phile' used is in a scientific context where a XX-phile is irresistibly drawn towards XX as if by magnetism (usually by some other chemical 'force') and the XX-phobe is repelled and/or pushed away from XX by a similar invisible but inexorable force. Again, if only this would be true in the "homophobe" context. If only.

So, homophobes should, by definition, run away from <irony> the scary homosexual people </irony> rather than do violence to them. I know small yappy dogs will often yap and bite when terrified of a bigger dog or a human but surely human beings have some higher brain function than a chihuahua - at least as much as a labrador or sheep-dog who are much more likely to just avoid the other dog or ignore them, with a growl as the last resort when truly threatened? Obviously not, in the cases of homophobia hate-crime perpetrators because these are people that are purportedly (from the label "homophobia") scared of some other (homosexual) people yet they react exactly as a tiny yappy dog would and lash out at the thing they must be SOOOO scared of! <irony> Awwwww poooor scaredy puppies! </irony>

Now, all I need to do is to find a better word to replace homophobia (I just need to remember or find the greek word/root for hatred - maybe animus or enmity?) and then to persuade everyone the world over that uses English of any dialect to use the new word instead. Yeah. Not going to hold my breath.

The thesaurus.com page for phobia is also an interesting read. Here they do actually list hatred as a synonym but this is ironically apt:

Main Entry:complex
Part of Speech:noun
Definition:psychological problem


Again, ironic and allowing the homophobes to cite their psychological problem over which they have no control. This is fallacy. Yes, they may have had homophobia taught to them from a very young age as children by relatives and other adults. No, this does not mean that they cannot use their own intelligence (oh, okay, I think I see the problem!) and rationale to work out that all humans are human! *facepalm*

*breathe in*

*breathe out*

*sigh*

I know - I am preaching to the converted here and, if not, then I am preaching to the closed-eared and closed-eyed. I cannot hope to try to change how people see or think about each other.

*cue a few un-friendings*


In case my irony is lost on the reader, I am very much against homophobia and all other discrimination -isms like racism, disablism, sexism, etc.

Also, I have had thoughts like this about the weird mishmash of other languages that the English language(s) is(are) made up of (and how illogical many spellings are) since I could first read and write at age four. DOES NOT COMPUTE!

(923 words as counted in Scrivener)