Word of the Day

Thursday, January 15, 2009


So, this is the answer given by a doctor in a recent issue of Reflex, great magazine by the way, to whether hypnosis can be dangerous to people in the middle of the operation: Ještě jsem se nimi nesetkala. Obecně platí, že někteří lidé jsou hypnabilnější, jiní zase méně. (Translation: I haven't yet met them. Some people are generally more hypnotizable - I've checked this word and it IS in the dictionary - than others.)

What's my problem with hypnabilnější besides its ugliness? I'd say it's badly formed. The ejší at the end of the adjective tells me it's an adjective in the superlative whose normal form would be hypnabilní, which does come up on Google a hundred times (142 times on Czech pages to be more exact). The abilní part is modeled on Romance - ável in Portuguese, abile in Italian, able in Spanish and French -, the latter taken by English. Hypnos is a word of Greek origin meaning sleep, which would give us a hybrid. No intrinsic problem with hybrids: television is still around and will probably still be for a while, but...

Able (and related forms) is a suffix added to verbal forms: hypnotizable (from hypnotize), doable (from do - another hybrid, this time Germanic and Latin), comprehensible (from comprehend), but the hypna in the Czech word is not a verb. The Czech verb is hypnotizovat, which, with the Latin suffix, would become the dreadful hypnotizovabilní (no hits on Google). Using the Czech counterpart of able - telný, as in nezpochybnitelný (indubitable), uskutečnitelný (feasible), ospravedlnitelný (justifiable), ovlivnitelný (susceptible), we'd get hypnotizovatelný (131 occurrences on Google), a better formed word than the motive of this entry. Nevertheless, since all words that I've put forth in this post are so hideous - at least to me -, why not use something like ovlivnitelnější hypnózou or více podléhající hypnóze (more susceptible to hypnosis) or even lidé, které se snadněji hypnotizují (people who are more easily hypnotized), good standard words that everybody understands?

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