Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Dec 13 20:23:30 UTC 2001

>>Seems like some other Greek words would have followed suit if were a
>>phonological thing--Archimedes-- my brain is mush from too many student
>>papers, someone else supply the rest.
>>Dale Coye
>As with Diomedes, or with the plurals of words like 'pericope'.
>The medical term diabetes seems to be directly inherited from Greek via
>Latin (meaning 'siphon', 'straddle'). The ancient physicians certainly knew
>of it. The 'bee-tease' pronunciation would seem to be the learned one.
>Has anyone mentioned yet that 'mellitus' does not follow the -itis pattern,
>but rather, stresses the first syllable and rhymes the last with 'bus'.

I think that's the way it 'should' be: /'mEl at tVs/ or so. Actually it is
sometimes pronounced /mE'lait at s/ as if it were "-itis". Same with
"tinnitus" (ringing in the ears). "Pruritus" (itch) seems like it SHOULD be
"-itis", and thus it is USUALLY pronounced "prU'rait at s/, even by MD's (I
think). Other things which don't seem to be 'diseases' ("habitus",
"crepitus", "coitus", etc.) have first-syllable stress. It depends on how
many MD's and others 'mispronounce' each one over the course of time, I
suppose. Our "health care professionals" are of course not generally
"classical scholars". (Like some other blue-collar types, I ignore the
"distinction" between unstressed /I/ and /@/ [schwa] usually.)

-- Doug Wilson

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