I am currently in the process of translating a text from one language into another, and the original uses a compound noun that can either be translated into English as "fly-eating" (losing the original's charm) or a fancy quasi-medical term involving "-phagia". I have tried searching for rules regarding Ancient Greek compound nouns' formation but could not unearth a definite algorithm.

The word for "fly" would be myia and -phagia could be appended at the end to signify "eating". I would appreciate it if someone with better knowledge of Ancient Greek could help me combine the two together, and I would love to see some scholarly articles on this topic. Surely there are some rules that medical scientists and jurisprudents follow when giving names to new terms?

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    You should sign up for the Greek language site proposal – curiousdannii Nov 24 '17 at 5:39
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    no the site isn't open yet for new questions. We're just collecting interested people. – curiousdannii Nov 24 '17 at 5:58
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    @curiousdannii, I'd like to sign up, but I don't think I have enough questions and/or answers to fulfil the requirements. – Pyromonk Nov 24 '17 at 6:24
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    I am by no means an expert, so this isn't an answer, but my impression is that "linking o" is usual in compounds formed in the present day, so I would guess "myiophagy". However, a possible issue with this (I don't know if it's really a problem) is that I think it would be a homophone with myophagy "muscle-eating". I wanted to learn the answer to this question after encountering the word "trypophobia" – brass tacks Nov 24 '17 at 6:41
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    "my(i)ophily" is apparently attested enough to get into the Collins dictionary. I don't know why the "i "can be omitted: it might be just an English spelling simplification, or it might be related to some kind of dialectal variation in Greek (the Liddell and Scott dictionary of Greek says μῦα ("mya") existed as an Attic variant of μυῖα ("myia")) – brass tacks Nov 24 '17 at 6:44

The rules for the formation of compounds are explained in the more elaborate Greek grammars, but I think you are asking about this specific word. In Classical Greek there are quite a large number of compounds from μυιο- or μυο-, as you can see here:

Click on the individual words for their meaning. Myo- or myiophagia would be a correctly formed compound and there is theoretically no reason why you should not be able to use it in the more bookish register of English.

  • Both links return "No objects found." I am not sure if that's my stupidity at play or lack of attention. If you could refer to specific "elaborate Greek grammars", that would be very helpful. – Pyromonk Nov 24 '17 at 11:36
  • I don't know what is wrong with the link. Maybe some computer expert can help. – fdb Nov 24 '17 at 12:21
  • For compound nouns look at the last section (pp. 352 sqq.) of Buck’s “Comparative grammar of Greek and Latin”, for example. – fdb Nov 24 '17 at 12:22
  • I am a "computer expert", so if I can't help myself, it's my fault. Maybe I should attempt it in a more sober and collected state. I have taken a look at Buck's work but couldn't come to any conclusions looking at pages 352 and after. I might have to read the whole book, but that will take a while. – Pyromonk Nov 24 '17 at 12:45
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    Ran a search on the perseus site. μυιο does indeed return fly-related words and μυο mostly returns muscle-related ones. I will have to take a look at the book you've recommended to see if there is an algorithm for constructing compounds. I have not touched ancient philology that deeply for about 10 years, so that will be quite a journey. – Pyromonk Nov 24 '17 at 12:51

See Why "agoraphobia" not "agorophobia"?

myia is a first declension noun, so originally in Greek the correct answer was myiaphagia, just as agoraphobia is actually the correct form, historically. But the -o- of the second declension extended to first declension nouns in compounds very very early—so early that -a- compounds are the archaic exception in Classical Greek, rather than the rule. The normally expected connective is indeed -o-, and that's what fdb's answer (https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/26458/17064) reports.


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