16 February 2008

Warning: This book is infected with rabies

A bit of fun with mistaken terms. On the Amazon.com page for a “monster-in-the-water” thriller (a.k.a. the four thousandth rip-off of Jaws), one reviewer provides this header for his comments: “Caution: Read this book and hydrophobia may set in.”

I instantly started to laugh insanely over this. This reader is under the mistaken belief that hydrophobia is the clinical name for a phobia of water. It isn’t. That condition is called aquaphobia, with the Latin term for “water” trumping the ancient Greek one.

But what makes this truly funny is that hydrophobia refers to late-stage rabies! (In fact, it’s often used to describe the whole illness.) This was the first scientific word used to describe the condition. Aquaphobia was invented later to describe the fear of water so as not to be confused with rabies.

But the confusion continues, as we see from this reviewer, who warns you that you may pick up rabies from reading this book. (“Mad book! Mad book!”)

Unless, of course, he’s saying that reading this book will make you enraged. Perhaps this is a negative review in disguise.