Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The problem with polyamory

by Jian Farhoumand.

Now, before all the angsty, free-lovin’ hippies out there get their collective, unwashed knickers in a twist, I’m not knocking those who choose to practise (gulp…) polyamory. No. My gripe is simply with the word itself: Polyamory. It’s nonsensical. Plus thoroughly exasperating.

English words of this kind are traditionally rooted in either Ancient Greek or Latin. Either/or. Not both. For example, the practice of having one lover or spouse is usually referred to in English as 'monogamy'. That’s because ‘monos’ means ‘one’ in Greek, and ‘gamos’ means ‘union’. So a monogamous person is someone who has only one partner.

Concurrently, you can refer to having multiple lovers or spouses as being 'polygamous' because ‘poly’ means ‘many’ in Greek. (See other words composed of two Greek stem words like polygon, polytechnic, polystyrene, etc.). Polyamory, however, is just rubbish. Polyamory is a poorly-constructed non-word that doesn’t know where it comes from. A bastard child of the lexically inept.

Why? Because the ‘poly’ part is Greek but the ‘amory’ part is Latin (Latin!) for ‘love’. This nonchalant juxtaposition of two stem words from two totally different ancient tongues is a huuuuuge no-no in linguistic terminology. It’s not just disrespectful, it’s dumb. It doesn’t make you sound cutting–edge, informed or hip. No. On the contrary, it makes you sound like a lazy-minded, dim-witted nonce.

If you’re truly desperate to use the -amory part (which is itself a duff, cringe-worthy, technically incorrect stem word anyway) then, for the love of God, just say that you’re into 'multi-amorousness' (still an ugly, clumsy word), or describe yourself as 'multi-amorous'. Why? Because ‘multi’ is Latin for ‘many’ (think multiple, multi-faceted, multifarious, etc.), and therefore links correctly with the second Latin stem word ‘amory’.

But 'polygamous' (or even 'polyphilic' if you want to be super-specific), would be what you’re really trying (and failing) to say, as here the composition is solely (and properly) of two Greek stem words.

Polyamory, however? HELL NO. Its creepy, irksome creation is tantamount to mind-numbing, blood-boiling, God-awful, molten crud being poured down the throat of history. Its existence is a slap in the face of the evolution of language and a disgusting, puss-filled boil on its arse.

Now, right here, some clever-dick reader/internet troll might pipe up with, “But television comprises both a Greek word and Latin word, and has been widely accepted into common usage!”

True, but there’s a reason for that: the ‘tele’ part means ‘far’ in Greek, and the ‘vision’ part comes from the Latin verb video, meaning ‘I see’. The reason the inventors of the television had to come up with this word, I imagine, is because the Greek word for seeing, ‘skopos’ (which can be translated directly as 'sight', 'aim', 'purpose' or 'watchman'), was already being used on an earlier invention, the ‘telescope’ – a device that helped us see far.

So telescope was taken. Polygamy, however, already exists for talking about people who have many lovers or spouses, and does the job just fine. There could even be an argument for introducing a new word, polyphilia, into the English language, too, if you really want to separate the people who love many unions from the people who love just having multiple random partners but not proper unions.

Polyamory, however, is just wrong. Don’t use it and don’t make excuses for it. Saying, “I’m polyamorous,” truly reveals the paucity of its user’s mind. It reeks of ignorance. It’s almost exactly the kind of puerile prattle you’d expect from a seventeen-year-old’s first ever A-Level Sociology essay: "Polyamory [sic] in the online dateing [sic] world."

Polyamory – it’s a bit like a Fisher Price ‘My First Big Word’, if such a thing existed. A word invented in universities by pseudo-intellectuals who’ve probably never had multiple lovers throughout their entire lives, let alone several at once. Utter tripe.

According to my spellcheck, polyamory doesn't even exist. Right now it’s underscored with an angry red squiggle in this Word file as I write it. Even Bill Gates wants nothing to do with it.

If you really want to say you fancy a shag with randoms (or repeats), just say you’re into 'sleeping around', 'having fun', 'keeping it casual', etc. Or, just say you’re into polygamy. That’s the proper word – the big boy’s/big girl’s word. Or even polyphilia, like I explained.

But whatever you do, don’t use naff, made-up words to sound clever that actually make you sound stupid. Otherwise you'll just look like someone who recently scored a C in their Sociology A-Level, enrolled at some jumped-up ex-poly (no pun intended) to do a pointless degree in Gender Studies with Political Thought and who now likes to throw around dumb, mixed-up words like ‘polyamory’ in the union bar as well as on your OkCupid profile that nobody reads anyway.

Why? Because NOBODY CARES. You’re not sleeping with a single hottie, let alone many. Get over yourself.

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