second thoughts on Nkinis

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Dec 25 18:12:07 UTC 2004

>But if you dislike the negated eponym, you're out of luck; it is standard
>medical terminology. See the American Cancer Society's page on it
>and my instructions to the annotators who work for me in the project on
>information extraction from the biomedical literature for which I am
>research administrator
>in the bulleted list, under "eponymy").

In recent years there seems to have been some effort to remove these
possessive endings entirely: e.g.:

... where the CDC stipulates:


Diseases or syndromes named after a person or place are generally not

Bright disease
Chagas disease
Down syndrome
Hodgkin disease
Kaposi sarcoma
Kawasaki syndrome
Lyme disease
Marfan syndrome
Minimata disease
Reye syndrome
Rocky Mountain spotted fever


It seems to me that the change has been quite perceptible in the last 20
years or so (I think "Hodgkin disease" was a rare expression much earlier),
but I think the initiative has been resisted quite strongly. I suppose
probably some journals insist on the non-possessive usages, but I think
"Hodgkin's disease" still outnumbers "Hodgkin disease" in the leading
medical journals, at my very brief glance. Perhaps Mark Mandel or another
of the scholars knows much more about this.

-- Doug Wilson

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