My father was one. My brother still is. So are the scientists who study Mount St. Helens and its ilk, and some at least of those who peer at the night sky. The professor of music and the professor of infectious diseases are. The woman who offers makeovers at my local drugstore [sic] is one, as are some members of the research teams that will save us all from the pandemic.
They’re all Ologists: geo-, herpet-, vulcan-, cosm-, music-, epidemi-, cosmet-, vaccin-. That last one bothers me a bit, I admit: vaccinologist. It sounds like a made-up word, it’s too ugly by half, and it’s too easy to confuse with vulcanologist. Don’t get me started on cosmologist and cosmetologist.
I get the standard progression from the discipline to the studier thereof — from -ology to -ologist — but then how did we get theology and theologian?
I mean, who’s in charge here? I know for sure it’s not editologists. If anyone had thought to check with me first, I would have nixed vaccinologist and suggested vaccinator, although I guess that could evoke the Terminator: not the most-desirable connection.
Vaccinist, anyone? Vaccinician?
Which brings us to a whole other set of inconsistencies. If physicists study physics, surely mathematicists should study mathematics, and linguisticists should study linguistics. If those are too tongue-twisty, can we at least standardize on either mathematicians and linguisticians, or linguists and mathematists?
It appears not. Indeed, the whole business of discipline and discipline-purveyor terminology is past undisciplined. It’s out of control.
If they won’t take the advice of an experienced editist, then at least hire a qualified termist. Or maybe a terminologian? I’m thinking we might need some divine intervention.