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Posted by Smokey Stover on February 21, 2004

In Reply to: Patho-logy posted by Bob on February 19, 2004

: : : : : The hyphenation in the title was intentional. Pathology commonly refers to the science of the study of disease. The suffix "logy" cannotes study or persuasion, and my inference: the root "patho" or some derivative of the word implies disease or maladaption or compulsive aberration. Yet, when I see the word in all its hues, pathetic, pathological etc., I fail to reconcile the lexical foundation of the word patho.

: : : : :
: : : : : Help appreciated.

: : : : As a pathologist, I've always recognised the 'ology' piece as being the suffix and the 'path' being the prefix. However, thinking about it, I guess you're right. Take 'radi-ology', this surely should be 'radio-logy'? English does distort suffixes and prefixes quite often. 'Kilo-metre' is the correct origin but often, sadly pronounced as the dreaded 'kil-ometer'!! It seems that anything which ends in a 'o' will have that 'o' tacked onto the following sylable. 'Thermo-meter'is pronounced as that in German, but 'therm-ometer' in English. Sad.

: : : Yes; my pet grumble is controversy, which often gets pronounced with the emphasis on trov.

: : Pathology, pathetic, sympathy, empathy, psychopath, all have their root, or one of them, in Greek pathos, which means suffering or feeling. The "feelings" connoted by the word are the so-called "tender emotions," not usually joy or elation. When it comes to coining a scientific or medical or other technical term, the tendency is to turn to Greek or Latin, or sometimes a mixture of the two. Even in Greek, however, one can be fooled by the existence of homonyms or by two distinct words spelled the same. Cosmology and cosmetics both come from cosmos, which means both universe and beauty. As for pronunciation, I always thought kil'-ometer was a British pronunciation, while kil-o'-meter ruled in the U.S. True, TV news reporters frequently say kil'-ometer, but TV newscasters (as they are often called in the U.S.) have a penchant for pronouncing big words incorrectly. Well, all words, really.

: con-TROV-er-sy is strictly UK. US is CON-trov-er-sy. Kil-OM-e-ter will be a habit hard for Americans to break ... but then, most of us are barely aware of the metric system. When you point out that we correctly pronounce MILimeter, CENTimeter ... it should logically follow that it's KILometer.

James Briggs commented on the variability of pronunciation of words containing -ometer or -ometre, noting a certain lack of logic when the -o- is accented. Very true. But how, in some more logical world, would one say trigonometry or sphygmomanometry? (Don't you love that word? Why don't they use it more often in spelling bees?) SS