Tag Archives: Latin

Macdonald Critchley

JMS Pearce East Yorks, England   Fig 1. Macdonald Critchley by Norman Hepple. Credit: National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH Arts. Source Macdonald Critchley was a neurologist of elegance and sophistication.1 He was pre-eminently a clinical investigator of disorders of higher mental functions, especially those relating to language. He was the author of many […]

Plain Words, or pandemic medical gobbledygook

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1: Comic featuring Plain Words The great essayist and philosopher Francis Bacon (1561-1626) once said: “Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past.” I suggest that the problems posed by writers who fail to convey meaning are not new.1,2 As long ago as […]

Coleridge and the albatross syndrome

Nicolás Roberto Robles  Badajoz, Spain   Figure 1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Contemporary portrait. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the tenth and last child of the vicar of Ottery Saint Mary near Devonshire, England, was born on October 21, 1772. In vivid letters recounting his early years he describes himself as “a genuine Sans […]

Harvey Cushing: Surgeon, Author, Soldier, Historian 1869-1939

John Raffensperger Fort Meyers, Florida, United States   Harvey Williams Cushing. Photograph by W.(?)W.B. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Harvey Cushing was a third-generation physician, born to a family of New England Puritans who had migrated to Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid 1830s. His father and grandfather were successful physicians; family members on both […]

Using Latin to settle medical pronunciation debates

Raymond Noonan Brooklyn, New York, United States   Author’s note: Original Latin words are written in italics, with macrons (ā) indicating long vowels. Equivalent Latin-derived medical terms are given without italics. Acute accents (á) are sometimes used to indicate stress accent in both English and Latin. Informal phonetic spelling that should be familiar to most […]

Plague epidemics and the evolution of language in England

Andrew P. K. Wodrich Washington, DC, United States   Pierart dou Tielt’s illustration depicts the mortal toll of the Black Death in a Belgian town circa 1353. Similarly, the plague decimated the population of England, spurring the change from French to English as the country’s dominant spoken language. Via Wikimedia Commons here.  Epidemics have had a profound impact […]

Science versus religion: the medieval disenchantment

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. An engraving showing a monopod or sclapod, a female Cyclops, conjoined twins, a blemmye, and a cynocephali. By Sebastian Münster 1544. Source History is a novel whose author is the people. -Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)   In medieval times, knowledge, beliefs, and faith were largely centered upon a […]

The bubonic plague in Eyam

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   William Mompesson In medicine most instances of outstanding acts of heroic human courage relate to individual patients or to their attendant doctors, nurses, and caregivers. Here is a unique example of the collective self-sacrifice of a tiny rural community, which probably saved the lives of thousands. The year […]

Grit

Romalyn Ante Wolverhampton, England   My mother is right—my brother’s blood is getting dirtier. A nurse like me, she had read the result of his glomerular filtration rate, a test that measures how well the kidneys clean the blood. It had dropped below 15, an indication that his chronic renal failure was reaching its end […]

Latin and medicine

Noah DeLone Miami, Florida, United States Photography by Celeste RC Language is the cornerstone of our ability to communicate as humans and underlies the prose of our medical discourse. The words we select can be indicative of our background, training, and intentions. It should come as no surprise that a robust knowledge of one’s own […]