Olo­gies, ol­o­gist and use in mod­ern lan­guage

Grocott's Mail - - OUTSIDE TURNING OVER LOGS -

“Pis­ca­tol­ogy” is not the study of peo­ple who drink too much but an old term for the hobby of fish­ing with rod-and-line. Talk­ing of fish stud­ies, it is easy to fig­ure out what the fol­low­ing study: ar­chaeo-ichthy­ol­o­gists (old fishes), neo-ichthy­ol­o­gists (mod­ern fishes), chon­drichthy­ol­o­gists (car­ti­lagi­nous fishes), ethno-ichthy­ol­o­gists (peo­ple and fishes), coela­can­thol­o­gists (old fourlegs) and ichthy­otox­i­col­o­gists (poi­sons and pois­sons)!

How do I know? Be­cause I have been col­lect­ing words end­ing in “ol­ogy” since I was a sec­ond year stu­dent at Rhodes. My list now num­bers 2 266 words end­ing in ol­ogy (“a sub­ject of study or in­ter­est”) that have been pub­lished in dic­tio­nar­ies or other books or used in so­cial me­dia. I also have an ad­di­tional list of 63 ol­o­gys that are “char­ac­ters of writ­ing or speech”.

The short­est ol­ogy is, well, ol­ogy, the study of all knowl­edge, fol­lowed by öol­ogy, the lit­tle boys’ favourite, col­lect­ing and study­ing bird’s eggs. The long­est is in­evitably a med­i­cal term, eth­no­traumapsy­chophar­ma­col­ogy (im­pact of drugs on be­hav­iour, stress man­age­ment and the mind) as med­i­cal doc­tors like to brag about their high lev­els of spe­cial­isa- tion. Close on its heels is psy­choneu­roen­docroim­munol­ogy (im­pact of the mind and the ner­vous and en­docrine sys­tems on im­mu­nity).

The ear­li­est use of an ol­ogy is me­te­o­rol­ogy, which en­tered the English lan­guage in 1620 but was used by Aris­to­tle in 340 BCE as “me­te­o­rolo­gie”. Other early ol­o­gys in­clude ge­ol­ogy, used by St Bede as “ge­olo­gie” in 735 CE to dis­tin­guish earthly from godly mat­ters (now the­ol­ogy), ae­ti­ol­ogy (ori­gin and causes of diseases, 1555), phys­i­ol­ogy (how the body func­tions, 1564) and tau­tol­ogy (cir­cu­lar ar­gu­ments, 1579).

The first ol­ogy to en­joy wide­spread use was prob­a­bly an­thro­pol­ogy (dif­fer­ent hu­man cul­tures, 1593).

Some re­cent ex­am­ples: dodol­ogy (do­dos, 2002), gree­niol­ogy (green liv­ing, 2007), arke­ol­ogy (un­ex­plained phe­nom­ena, 2007), buy­ol­ogy (neu­ro­mar­ket­ing, 2008), pot­terol­ogy (im­pact of Harry Potter books on chil­dren’s lit­er­acy, 2008) and boffi­nol­ogy (pop­u­lar his­tory of sci­en­tists, 2010).

Some “lan­guage” ol­o­gys in­clude apol­ogy (re­gret­ful ac­knowl­edge­ment of an offence), ca­col­ogy (bad speech), dit­tol­ogy (two-fold mean- ing), dox­ol­ogy (short hymn in praise to God), lep­tol­ogy (te­dious dis­course on tri­fling things) and pseu­dol­ogy (telling lies, first used long ago, in 1658!).

My favourite ol­o­gys in­clude fer­roe­quinol­ogy (steam lo­co­mo­tives or “iron horses”) and garbageol­ogy (house­hold rub­bish as a marker of so­cial sta­tus and as­pi­ra­tions).

Now that you are an ex­pert ol­o­gist, can you fig­ure out which fields of study the fol­low­ing ap­ply to: al­go­l­ogy, or­chi­dol­ogy, box­ol­ogy, chore­ol­ogy, formi­col­ogy, irenol­ogy, quirkol­ogy? You will be sur­prised by some of the an­swers!

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