Monday, November 11, 2013

Mr. Clarity goofs off (4)

Did you ever notice that not all disease names sound bad?

Many disease names do sound really bad, but others don’t sound too bad at all. And a few actually sound good – they don’t even sound like the names of diseases. Here are some examples, off the top of my head. Warning: some links point to disturbing images.

Sound really bad: rickets,* carbuncle, pellagra, and twisted bowel.

Don’t sound too bad: abasia and spondylolisthesis.

Actually sound good: enuresis and echolalia. To me, enuresis sounds like a kind of cell division. And Echolalia sounds like a girlfriend of the poet Catullus.

And the really strange thing is, the seriousness of a disease does not always correspond to the awfulness of its name. For example, given a choice I would rather have awful-sounding pellagra than not-too-bad-sounding spondylolisthesis, because I read on Wikipedia that pellagra can be cured by vitamins.

Those are my (highly subjective) thoughts. Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you have your own examples to discuss. I welcome your comments.

The Takeaway: Have a great day, my fellow wordies.

*Generally speaking, plural names sound bad: for example, rickets, mumps, measles, shingles, and chilblains. I don’t know why.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this post is not medical advice. This post is merely about the sounds of words; it is not intended to disrespect the sufferers of any disease. See also my general disclaimer.

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