Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Aug 4 22:39:33 UTC 2005

lexical inflation strikes again...  or maybe just confusion.

a report from a friend:

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Victor Steinbok <victor.steinbok at verizon.net>
> Date: August 1, 2005 3:04:11 PM PDT
> To: zwicky at csli.stanford.edu
> I have developed a new linguistic pet peeve. It started a while ago
> and was
> based on various appearances in printed and TV news reports (I
> don't listen to
> radio enough to notice). Over the weekend, it happened again, so I was
> reminded to check what you thought on the subject.
> I've noticed that over the past several years, "quadriplegic" became
> synonymous to "paralized" rather than the narrower meaning of
> "paralized in
> four limbs" (or something to that effect--i.e., usually affected by
> spinal
> damage in the cervical rather than the thoracic area). MS patients
> have become  quadriplegic. Anyone in the wheelchair is now
> quadriplegic, etc. What really  got me annoyed yesterday was the
> final comment in the TV report which mentioned "quadriplegics and
> paraplegics" even though the entire episode confounded the two
> terms and used "quadriplegic" to describe someone who was clearly--
> visibly--paraplegic.
> The particular report concerned electrode implants to allow
> paralyzed patients
> to cough. So the final comment was actually accurate, but it was
> the stopped-
> clock kind of accuracy (the one that tells the correct time twice a
> day). I
> was wondering if this bears closer investigation. I suppose, it
> might be
> difficult to track this down by simple searches, since each case
> might need to
> be evaluated as to whether the word quadriplegic actually refers to a
> quadriplegic or a paraplegic patient. But, at least, I thought I'd
> direct your
> attention to this so that the next time you hear it or see in print
> you might
> notice the context.

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