Is a barbarian an asshole?
I sometimes say BARBARIAN when I actually mean to say just plain ASSHOLE, so I looked up BARBARIAN to see if it is at all interchangeable with ASSHOLE.
Well, BARBARIAN is what the ancient Greeks an the Romans called all foreigners. Because, to their ears, foreigners sounded like this: bar-bar this and bar-bar that. If it’s not understood, it’s not language. The dictionary where I was reading this says:
“The extension of meaning to imply uncivilized, uncultured, is a natural consequence.”
Is it, indeed? What a planet!
What the Greeks and the Romans didn’t know when they came up with the word for the people they couldn’t understand is that they made way for another word: XENOPHOBES. If the Romans and the Greeks made the slightest bit of effort to think better of other people’s languages, would we have the word XENOPHOBE today? I wonder. Anyway…
So, that, and other things like spiders, plains, chickens, dust, gold, Northern Lights, flutes, bees etc. gave rise to all sorts of phobias. Xenophobia doesn’t even count anymore as a serious phobia.
But the good news is that now there are cures for phobias. But with all the pills and psychiatrist’s chair, there is no cure for xenophobia. And I’ve just found out why. The Meriam-Webster dictionary says:
“Unlike other phobias, xenophobia isn’t really considered an abnormal condition; instead, it’s generally thought of as just serious narrow-mindedness.”
Well, that explains everything.
Conclusion: BARBARIAN isn’t interchangeable at all with ASSHOLE.