Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Mon Apr 24 19:58:44 UTC 2006

i recently read about a doctor who was interviewing a patient and
asked her if she had ever had an abortion.  she said no, but then the
doctor looked at the records he had and saw clear indications that
she had had two terminated pregnancies.  it turned out that the
patient used "abortion" to mean a deliberate termination of
pregnancy; she had had two miscarriages, which she would not have
described as "abortions".  surprisingly to me, the doctor was
surprised at this patient's usage.

as you know, i have some interest in technical vs. everyday uses of
language.  but, stupidly, i failed to make a note about this story
and now can't recall where i read it.  anyone have any idea of the


The American Dialect Society -

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