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Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Long And The Short Of It

hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia - fear of long words

This ludicrously long word, masquerading as an ostensibly legitimate psychological condition, has to have been clandestinely invented by a psychiatrist with a twisted sense of humor. I can see the fiend laughing at the rest of us while collecting his stipend as an Oxford English Dictionary editor.

Questions for Dr. Inventor: What exactly is a long word? Is it letter count? Syllables? And, if two words with the same meaning are of comparable length but one is more commonly used than the other - e.g. talkative vs. garrulous - does the phobic experience symptoms when encountering the latter in print or speech? Or, is that a different malady? What is that called? How about I'll-stick-to-words-I-already-know-itis?  

Medical and linguistic high jinx aside, I've got an easy two syllable word for those of us who don't object to using a dictionary now and then - learner.           

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