From the INTRODUCTORY SUGGESTIONS AS TO MEDICAL ENGLISH: ONE can read scarcely a sentence of medical English without bumping against the fact that this is a strange sort of a jumble-this iatric language of ours. We find that the structures of the body and its diseases are named by words that are not English. Even in the single-sentence title of an article there will be a hodgepodge of Latin and English. We should protest against this nonsense. Let us anglicize our names of diseases, bones, nerves, veins, and muscles, and ...
From the INTRODUCTORY SUGGESTIONS AS TO MEDICAL ENGLISH: ONE can read scarcely a sentence of medical English without bumping against the fact that this is a strange sort of a jumble-this iatric language of ours. We find that the structures of the body and its diseases are named by words that are not English. Even in the single-sentence title of an article there will be a hodgepodge of Latin and English. We should protest against this nonsense. Let us anglicize our names of diseases, bones, nerves, veins, and muscles, and quit dragging about with us the tags and barbarisms of medievalism. It is long past the time when the medical snake should have thoroughly sloughed and left behind the old skin of a Latinity that is usually poor philology, sorrier science, and the very superstition of English. There are some terms which it may be difficult to anglicize, but let us "force them to come in " by any amount of wheedling or by downright compulsion. Take the tables of anatomic parts and with a little good-will all the Latin names can be anglicized without much trouble. A few of the muscle names may bother one a little. Let us appeal to our anatomists and quizmasters and get them to help us with our chronic philologic dyspepsia. The obstinate words must be adopted and taught English manners. We have these poor slaves on our hands; it is we that brought them to this land of freedom and enslaved them. It is both ridiculous and useless to scorn them and keep them as outcasts. Let us teach them good manners, and good service of our profession and of humanity. That is only sound sense, social or linguistic. As for ourselves, let us never italicize such terms; do not let us flatter either the modern sticklers, or the old Latin spooks, but march these mummers and mummified words straight out into the daylight of good Anglo-Saxon English. They will feel much better there, than when they are left flitting and hiding about the cellars of some musty European cloister turned into a secret dissecting-room. The argument that the Latin titles to articles and names of organs are necessary in literature for the cataloger's sake, or for any other reason, may be smiled at in silence. I cannot help feeling that he is a better anatomist who says eustachian tube, squamous suture, etc., than one who speaks of the "Tuba eustachii," the "Sutura squamosa," etc.; that he is a better clinician who speaks of "purulent otitis of the middle ear," or of "pulmonary tuberculosis," than one who says "otitis media purulenta," and "phthisis pulmonalis." In this connection a word, many words of praise, if they would better help, is deserved for the nomenclature of neural terms advised by Professor Burt G. Wilder, and the majority of the Committee of the American Anatomical Association on revision of the nomenclature of such terms. Of all the attempts to modernize, shorten, and make less incongruous our anatomic names, this is the best, most common sense, and best built on general evolution laws. We should do all we can to render it practical, or rather practised. Nearly all of us pull the old skin along behind us in our prescriptions, thinking that we must at least write in bad Latin the names of the articles we prescribe. The reasons given for continuing this custom will not bear investigation. In the first place, to write a prescription with parts here and there in sick English, and other parts in moribund Latin, illogically and whimsically dumped together, is "neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring." There are probably not a score of American physicians who can write off-hand a whole prescription in correct Latin. Why should we 999,981 ignoramuses flatter the pride of these aristocrats and make them laugh at us in their sleeves for our bungling?" Don't want the patient to know what we are prescribing?" That is a confession a man would hardly make if he suspected its implications....
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