I saw the word, “language fiend” in a newspaper article yesterday. I thought I saved the text for the purpose of posting this question, but I didn't, so I can’t remember what the source of it was.

When I saw the word, “language fiend,” it prompted me a question – how a language (computer / music / chess /manga/ cosme, whatever) fiend is enthusiastic about the language (computer / music / chess /manga/ cosme, whatever) in comparison with language (computer / music / chess / manga / cosme) fan, enthusiast, maniac, fanatic,and geek.

In Japanese, we have only two groups of xx-愛好者 (aikosha – lover, or fan) and xx-狂(kyo -maniac) to distinguish the level of interest, zeal, and engagiment in an object. In this regard, we are very simplistic. I think I’m English language enthusiast, but won't be a fiend.

Which of them are considered to be the normal 'lover' level and abnormal 'maniac' level? Are there any other English suffixes to describe __ lover or __ maniac than the above?

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    Ooh, this is going to be an interesting one - The terms you described differ not only in level of enthusiasm they connote, but also the ways in which that enthusiasm is typically expressed and the relationship implied to exist between the person and the interest. Plus, the meanings of all of those terms have drifted with time, so there'll need to be some analysis of that, too. – user867 Oct 14 '14 at 0:45
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/38284/… – user867 Oct 14 '14 at 6:21
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    I doubt you'll find a concensus regarding the rankings. – Barmar Oct 14 '14 at 18:42
  • I just now heard "shinja", subtitled as "zealot", used in the sense asked about here. I remembered that aikosha and -kyo were supposed to be the only two words applicable in this case - does shinja normally have the same religious meaning as "zealot"? – 01d55 Nov 3 '14 at 6:33
  • @Old55. Shinja 信者 literally means ‘believer.’ The meaning is broad, and covers wide range of light believers and deeply devoted believer. Most of Japanese are believed to be 仏教信者 or 仏教徒‐Buddhist believers, but many of them marry in Christian-style wedding ceremony today in the church or a makeshift church set up in hotels. On the other hand, there are fanatic and antisocial Shinja as witnessed in the Ohm Shinrikyo cases, in which 29 were killed and 6,000 people were injured 6,000 by a group of Ohm Shinrikyo shinja during 1989 through 1995. – Yoichi Oishi Nov 3 '14 at 22:52

Language being what it is, a complete ordering is too much to ask for. Nevertheless, I think they can be roughly grouped. "Fan," "geek," and "enthusiast" are aikosha, with "fan" perhaps the least intense, while "fiend," "maniac," and "zealot" are -kyo. I would add that "fanatic," the etymological root of "fan," is in the severe category.

User867 rightly notes that some terms - I think especially "geek" and "nerd" - also describe a particular mode of appreciation. The enthusiasm of those who paint their bodies in the colors of their favorite team and stand shirtless in the crowd is spoken of differently than that of those who carefully study the statistical performance over time of that team's members and coach. The latter kind is what is meant by a "geek" or "nerd", and thus these terms can be applied to a broad range of intensity.

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