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Monday, 27 July 2015

Homo and The Herald

On 22nd July, the following letter ( link ) appeared in The Herald. I replied immediately by email, as follows

Dear Sir,

Alan Clayton, a retired English teacher, appears to have less familiarity with Latin and Greek than modern English in his strictures on usage of the prefix homo (LETTERS 22nd July "Neophobic?")

The use of homophobic derives from the use of the Greek homo meaning same, not the Latin homo, meaning man, as in homo sapiens, 'thinking man'.

The meaning is perfectly well-understood (afraid of same sex preference) and the distinction evident to most people, although some appear to believe mistakenly that its usage in homosexual means man, when is fact it means same sex sexual preference, as demonstrated by its application to both male and female homosexuals.

yours faithfully,

Peter Curran

I checked the Herald Letters page on the 23rd, but my reply didn’t appear, though there was a responses to Mr. Clayton’s letter, but with a different theme and point. I checked again on the 24th and 25th, and resigned myself to the fact that my point was not going to be made.

But today, this letter (link) appeared, five days after the “Neophobic” letter and my unpublished reply being sent. I am happy that the point is now made, although I would take issue with Mr. Bowman’s assertion that “homophobic is now accepted as properly meaning hatred of homosexuals

It means what phobic implies in this or any context – an irrational fear of homosexuals which does on occasion manifest itself as hate.

I am left slightly puzzled as to why The Herald felt that my prompt correction was unacceptable for publication, but they – rightly -  do not offer explanations for editorial decisions, so I must guess …