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CP Snow (author of "The Two Cultures") was said to have disliked the word "television" because it was a mixture of Greek and Latin roots. Is there any particular reason to dislike words like this?

I'd also be interested in other examples (polyamory, vinopolis...)

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The only reason would be if you're a linguist, or interested in etymology of words and such, and if you have a feeling that when creating a new word you should only use roots from a similar language. Anthropophagous and hominivorous, not anthropovorous or hominiphagous.

However, once a word is in the language and has become a new concept, the way the word was formed doesn't really matter anymore. In daily speech I doubt many people care how the word "television" was formed and that it was bad to combine a Greek root with a Latin one.

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Hey, I resent that! :) Why would a linguist dislike a word with mixed etymologies? –  Kosmonaut Feb 22 '11 at 23:56
    
Probably because it is unnatural. Probably because the languages may follow different rules of morphology. There are languages whose grammars are completely different from each other. The indiscriminate -izations and the -ifications applied on alien words may be an example of how not to combine words. –  Kris Dec 24 '11 at 8:25
    
The wikipedia hybrid word entry has a list of words, many of hybrid Greek and Latin origin. I imagine only Classicists are concerned with this issue. Especially since they're ones that have knowledge of both languages. Linguists are mostly descriptive scientists and aren't concerned with prescribing behavior. It would be interesting to find such hybrid words that were created by the Romans. –  ThomasW Jun 22 '12 at 9:41
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Yeah, what's wrong with mixing roots? In particular, "aquaphobia" means "fear of water" if only because the monoracinate[1] "hydrophobia" means rabies.

[1] Heh-heh, I just made that up.

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But it is immediately understandable -- the sign of a good coinage, despite its heteroracinate character. I vote for inclusion in the OED. Anyone else with me? –  bye Feb 22 '11 at 23:44
    
Perhaps the antonym should be "multiracinate" (although that would be, I admit, heteronomic). –  Malvolio Feb 22 '11 at 23:47
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