ob-gyn revisited

Spanbock/Svoboda-Spanbock spanbocks at VERIZON.NET
Fri Mar 30 22:43:35 UTC 2012

As someone who has been using an OBGYN for 35 years and whose father was a doctor, I can say that only once in all my nearly fifty years have I ever heard it pronounced in any way other than as initials.

That one time was by a man who said "oh-bee-gine" and I just figured he'd never actually talked about it before.


On Mar 30, 2012, at 3:31 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: ob-gyn revisited
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The Rachel Maddow Show and blog do this one better--they suggest trying
> out different combinations of letters on the VA site for vanity license
> plates. One they are particularly proud of is an old recycled headline:
> "OMGYN".
> FWIW, I agree with the proposed origin. For one, the standard
> designation used to be "ob/gyn", with "ob" always sounded out as if it
> were an initialism. Over time, I've seen both "ob-gyn" and "OBGYN", with
> all three variants either in all caps or in some combination of upper
> and lower case. And [abgaIn]  and [abd3In] sound as if they might be
> British or Australian acronyms--I've never heard them in the US (with
> admittedly limited experience, but still...). And even the full "OBGYN"
> version is still often abbreviated to just "O.B.".
> On the other hand, Departments of Ear, Nose and Throat can often be
> heard referred to as "ent" or "E.N.T.". Other abbreviations/initialism
> are often pronounced as separate letters--e.g., "O.R.", "E.M.T.",
> "I.C.U." (sorry, can't recall more than that on request--need to think
> more about that). But I've heard longer examples pronounced as words
> rather than initials. It could be that OBGYN is just short enough to
> fall into the former class.
>     VS-)
> On 3/30/2012 5:29 PM, Neal Whitman wrote:
>> Back in 2002, there was a short thread on "ob-gyn", which ended with =
>> this message:
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=3Dind0208D&L=3DADS-L&P=3DR=
>> 7926&I=3D-3&X=3D75F2A46774E24B9CDC&Y=3Dnwhitman%40ameritech.net&d=3DNo+Ma=
>> tch%3BMatch%3BMatches
>> In the thread, pronunciations such as [abgaIn] and [abd3In] were =
>> discussed, as well as the quasi-acronymic "O-B-jin" and "O-B-G-Y-N". I'm =
>> wondering if anyone else has regional or diachronic pronunciation data =
>> to throw into the mix. The OED only lists the [abgaIn]-like =
>> pronunciations, which I have never heard (though some in the 2002 thread =
>> had), while AHD lists only the full "oh-bee-jee-wye-en" pronunciation.=20
>> I'm just wondering how this pronunciation came about. I speculate that =
>> it started with plain "O-B" for "obstetrician" (a little like "ID" for =
>> "identification", except that the B is in coda rather than onset =
>> position), and then "G-Y-N" came along by attraction.
>> And slightly OT (not OB), I liked the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond =
>> where Doris mentioned an O-B-G-Y-N and Frank got angry at perceived =
>> patronization: "You don't have to spell it out for me!"
>> Neal Whitman
>> Email: nwhitman at ameritech.net
>> Blog: http://literalminded.wordpress.com
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