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Were-words 1:
Phenotype or Anima?

By Lynna Landstreet/Lynx Canadensis.
Posted to alt.horror.werewolves on Sun, Sep 12, 1999.

In article<37db4d84.120892653@>, pinky@were.net wrote:

> Hrm, well, Therianthropy isn't in the dictionary, correct. However,
> the word "Therianthropic" is. According to "New Webster's Dictionary"
> (copyright 1993): "Therianthropic adj half human and half animal ||
> relating to belief in or worship of such beings [fr Gr therion, beast
> + anthropos, man]"

The word "therianthropy" is also used in Adam Douglas's book The Beast Within: Man, Myths & Werewolves, which was written in 1992. He mentions it briefly as a more etymologically correct alternate to "lycanthropy" when referring to shapeshifting into non-lupine forms.

Personally, although I am fascinated by etymology and enjoy using the dictionary to track the origins of words, I am not troubled by encountering words that aren't found in the dictionary, or are used contextually in a different sense that given in the dictionary definition(s).

Considering how heavily influenced by postmodernism my graduate program is, half the words I come across in articles from academic journals either don't occur in the dictionary, or are being used completely differently than the dictionary definition would suggest. Try using a dictionary to make sense of Donna Haraway's writing and you will quickly see what I mean... :-)

> I prefer the word "animality" or "WereSide" (wereside = the side of
> you that makes you a were, aka, the animal side). I myself don't like the
> word Phenotype, it really IS a misnomer.

I agree. I don't know who coined it in this context or why, but I think there are better choices available. Here's my suggestion, and backed by a dictionary definition no less (Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition):

anima (n) [NL, fr. L, soul] (1923) An individual's true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal ideals of conduct; also: an inner feminine part of the male personality - compare animus, persona.

Most people are more familiar with the latter definition, since it has infiltrated its way further into pop culture, but the former is really more central. I think that "anima" is a better choice than "animus", regardless of gender, because the non-gender-based meanings of the latter are less appropriate:

animus (n) [L, spirit, mind, courage, anger] (1816) 1: basic attitude or governing spirit: disposition, intention. 2: a usu. prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will. 3. an inner masculine part of the female personality in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung - compare anima.

Definition 1 is not bad, though I think not as evocative as the primary meaning of anima. Definition 3, like the secondary meaning of anima, is simply irrelevant, and definition 2, which provides the basis for the word "animosity", is obviously undesirable; I will refrain from commenting on its possible relevance to certain aspects of Usenet behavior. :-)

Lynx Canadensis
(a.k.a. Lynna Landstreet)

(Update [January 20, 2005]: In the years since I originally posted this to the alt.horror.werewolves newsgroup, the word "phenotype", as used to indicate the type of animal someone identifies with, seems to be falling out of favour as more people become aware of the original biological meaning of that term. A newly coined word, "theriotype", seems to be displacing it, which while perhaps not as evocative as some of the suggestions above, at least means exactly what it should: beast-type.)


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