What caught my eye this week
This week I encountered the word nomophobia for the first time. I’m rather behind the times, since the word was coined in 2008 – and I admit it confused me, because I couldn’t figure out how ‘fear of rules or laws’ (my Greek is rusty, but it still works!) was relevant in the context of an article about the over-use of mobile devices in the classroom.
Of course, it turns out that nomophobia does not derive from the Greek nomos: at least, the version invented in 2008 doesn’t. No, this particular nomophobia is a contraction of ‘no-mobile-phone-phobia’, and it refers to the symptoms of anxiety, depression and panic experienced by people when deprived of a mobile phone or in an area where there is no signal.
Is it bad that my concern is more for the mangling of the Greek than for the rise of the ‘phobia’ itself?
Anyway, that prompted me to spend a happy hour rooting through the list of phobias with serious Greek names: and what lovely names they are! I’d like to develop a few of the more obscure ones myself, just so that I could use the words on a daily basis. Furthermore, the coinage of the Greek words often seems to validate the phobia itself. Take siderodromophobia, defined as ‘fear of rail travel’: that’s been beautifully cobbled together from the Greek, and literally means something like ‘the fear of an iron racecourse’. Put like that, it seems perfectly rational to fear rail travel. [But in an awkward linguistic twist, we also have the term siderophobia, used to mean ‘fear of stars’, from the Latin sidus (constellation) rather than the Greek sideros (iron). Inventing a phobia name is a complex and controversial business.]
Sadly, some phobias are a disappointment from a linguistic point of view, like telephonophobia and Americophobia. But for every boring electrophobia, there’s a wonderful word like kakorrhaphiaphobia, which is used to mean ‘fear of failure’, but which really comes closer to meaning ‘fear of a contrivance of ill’; again, the Greek makes it seem like a pretty reasonable fear!
I’m now wondering whether to start work on my own list of phobias. It might be a challenge to find some Greek for ‘fear of your computer crashing just before your assignment is due’, but I could probably manage something for ‘fear of being laughed at for pronouncing Greek names incorrectly’, or ‘fear of obscure uses of the dative’…!
Around the Web this week…
From Classical Studies Support
OU student? Prepare for next year by joining an academic library through SCONUL – Classical Studies Support
Vindolanda horseshoes – BBC
An ancient Greek shipwreck – Greek Reporter
… and a Roman shipwreck too – TASS
Greek statues discovered in Turkey – Daily Sabah
Identifying and repatriating antiquities – The Guardian
Comment and opinion
Hippolytus and Phaedra – Classical Inquiries
On the challenge of organising your personal library – A Don’s Life
The Iliad in Northern Ireland? – The Guardian
The life of a retired classicist – The Retiring Academic
The distinctive features of Etruscan art – Classical Wisdom Weekly
Race, ethnicity and revisionism in Classics – RFK Classics
On the Roman Dead exhibition in London – Caroline Lawrence
Join the debate about ‘theory’ – Sententiae Antiquae
Case study of translation problems – Emily Wilson on Twitter
Linking Roman roads to modern prosperity – The Washington Post
Antony and Aristotle – The Edithorial
Aristotle as ‘highbrow self-help’? – The Guardian
On research and getting turned around – A Don’s Life
Filming for BBC 2 – Michael Scott
Teaching Latin in primary schools – The Classical Association
…and bringing Virgil to life in high schools – Society for Classical Studies
Watch out for those centurions! – The Times
Monuments and thinking critically – Twitter Moments
Want to do well in exams? Put the laptop away – Inside Higher Ed
Dead or dormant? On learning Latin – Classical Fix [as the rhyme goes: Latin’s a dead language,/ As dead as dead can be./ It killed the ancient Romans/ and now it’s killing me.’]
Podcasts, videos and other media
Discussing Boudicca – BBC Radio 4
Amazing drone tour of Pompeii – Steven Ellis on Twitter
Discussion of women who ‘rocked the ancient world’ – Zocalo
Teenagers in ancient Rome – TED-Ed
A new(ish) set of Art History videos – The Open University [there’s one on Laocoon, and an interesting discussion of a plaquette of Apollo and Marsyas… among other great things!]
Off our beat
Which British masterpiece are you? – The Royal Academy [and since I’m sure you want to know, I can reveal that I’m a Turner, and I’ve been told ‘it’s never too early to start cultivating your reputation as an eccentric, anarchic, slightly bonkers genius’…!]
Not sure even I could cope with this on my wall…!