[DWJ] Topia (OT)

Colin Fine colin at fine.me.uk
Tue Jul 7 03:13:48 EDT 2009


Otter Perry wrote:
>
> On Jul 5, 2009, at 9:06 PM, Sally Odgers wrote:
>
>> I appeal to the learned minds on this list. What does the suffix "topia"
>> mean? It keeps cropping up in made-up names. Fairytopia, Dinotopia 
>> etc. I
>> suspect it belong to a specific word and has been borrowed without 
>> regard to
>> linguistic sense.
>
> Well, here you go.
>
> It all started with "Utopia", a word Sir Thomas More made up to name his
> ideal place.
>
> It's from "ou" - not - and "topos" - place -, so "no place".
>
Note this - "Utopia" meant 'no place'.  Eutopia ('good place') is a 
(learned!) folk etymology.

> So, actually, -topia is okay for all those uses.  Dinosaur-place, 
> fairy-place, etc.
>
But they're not borrowed with no regard to linguistic sense. Like 
'-holic'  (and '-gate', from Watergate) it means more than just the 
etymological import of the root.
Just as all the coinings in '-holic' are meant to imply excessive or 
addictive activity (which is why '-ic' won't do), all the coinings in 
'-topia' are intended to recall either 'Utopia' (the mythical ideal 
place) or 'dystopia' (its reverse, an apparent ideal which turns out to 
be horrific).

Colin



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