Monday, November 11, 2013
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.