Wednesday, October 04, 2006


[NOTE: I know all of my Greek-y friends are going to want to respond to this post with some elaborate explanation of logos. Please refrain. Please.]

About a month ago, my housemate began making fun of my various pretensions of expertise by attaching the suffix "-ologist" to whatever it was that I was talking about. For example, when I make suggestions on how to cook dinner, she says "Oh, I didn't realize you were a porkchopologist" or when I speculate on why she should change lanes during a drive, she says "I'm sorry, I forgot you were a highwayologist", etc., etc., ad nauseum. I thought this was just a quaint little joke that we had established in our relationship as a nice way of saying "stop acting like you know everything and let me handle this." But in the last couple of weeks, I have been literally bombarded with the "-ologist" formulation!

On "America's Next Top Model" last week, they had a photo shoot that involved stylists from the famed inner-city "hair-wars." These are men and women who hold fashion shows with the most elaborate hairstyles possible, sometimes involving three or more feet of style, fabricated models of the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty, sometimes even moving parts to the hair-design. But, the point is, when they introduced the hair stylists to the America's next-top-models, they introduced them as "weaveologists." (I'm not making this up.) Today, again, I was listening to an NPR story on the recent school shooting in an Amish community in central PA, and as they were discussing the motivations and pathologies of the shooter, who shot himself at the end of his attack, they referred to someone called a "suicideologist." There are other examples, but these are representative of the sort of stuff I've been hearing. Now, I know that sometimes we become attuned to certain things and start to hear/see/experience them everywhere simply because they have been raised to the level of conscious attention. But, really, when did everyone become an "-ologist"?

So, I've been wondering: what are the necessary conditions for claiming such a status? Is it the case that you can attach the "-ologist" suffix to anything that can be formulated as a noun? Are there any restrictions here?

Can you be an "ology-ologist"?


Elena said...

Hey, Leigh! I just wanted to say "Hi" and that I like your blog :)

kgrady said...

Did you get nervous when you saw me commenting on this one? It's OK, you can relax. I just want to point out that I am bothered by something similar, the abuse of the "-oholic" suffix, as in, "Oh, I'm such a chocoholic." Now I'm sure if there was such a thing as chocohol I would be quite fond of it, but this makes no sense. No less than unmakes sense. And I, for one, love things to make sensohol.