Humorous disease names

JAMES A. LANDAU Netscape. Just the Net You Need. JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Sat Jun 7 13:01:06 UTC 2008

On Thu, 5 Jun 2008 00:25:18 +0000 (what’s he doing in England?), Tom Zurinskas <truespel at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>When you get older you win a lot a trophies.   A trophy of the spine.  A
>trophy of the nervous system.  A trophy of the....

Guggle!  Zatch!

>From Arthur Guiterman “Damming the Missouri”

When we try to curb the surges of unchanging human nature
Or to quench a conflagration with an act of legislature
Or to keep our zealous doctors from inventing new diseases
Or to keep a woman from doing just exactly as she pleases…

In James Herriot (pseud. for James Wright) _All Creatures Great and Small_ (a book which his daughter insisted should be called "Ill Creatures Great and Small"), there is a knacker who loves to harrass veterinarians with his own imaginary diagnoses, of which he had four:  stagnation of the lungs, worm in the tail, black rot, and gastric ulster.

Does "Gastric ulster" qualify as an eggcorn? (Considering that the gas-holding envelope of a Zeppelin was made of the lining of cow's stomachs, it almost works.)  "Black rot" is a plant disease.  The other two are not original with either Herriot or his knacker.  A quick look in Google Books gives:

The Yorkshire Cattle-doctor and Farrier - Page 104
by John C. Knowlson - 1840 - 272 pages
I assure my readers that there is no such thing as a worm in the tail, but there
is sometimes a gangrene, or canker, in the tail, brought on by the ...

Howells's Farriery - Page 136
by John Howells - 1808
i The worm in the tail. The sign to know it. The teeth are loose, and the tail
is soft, and you may tie a knot upon it as if it was broke. The cure. ...

Observations in Husbandry - Page 138
by Edward Lisle - Business & Economics - 1757 - 450 pages
... he told me, they call it the worm in the tail ; the joint of the tail near
the rump will, as it were, rot away, and the teeth of the cow grow ...

On Wed, 4 Jun 2008 11:10:30  Zulu minus 0500 Jim Parish <jparish at SIUE.EDU> wrote:

>Mark Mandel wrote:
>> Or coined independently. But nah, he's probably seen some of those
>> others. I know I recognize "ser"; I can't place it, but it'll come
>> to me.
>It certainly should! Bujold uses it in _Komarr_, remember? I think I've
>seen it in one or two other universes as well. (In fact, if I remember
>correctly, *I* used in in a rather bad story I wrote in my teens, so it
>must be out there elsewhere.)

In Bujold's _Brothers In Arms_ there is a character named Ser Galen.  Ser is his given name.  He is killed in the book but is mentioned in _Komarr_, which is a sequel.

What you are thinking of is Bujold's _The Curse Chalion_ and its sequel _The Paladin of Souls_, in which "Ser" and its feminine equivalent "Sera" are used as honorifics.  It is not made clear whether this is a title of nobility or simply a way to address someone of obviously higher rank.  At one point the POV character, who holds the higher honorific of "Castilar", facetiously addresses a bird as "Ser".

(The third in the series, _The Hallowed Hunt_, takes place in a neighboring country with a different system of honorifics.)

Somewhat more on-topic:  Is anyone familiar with the term "Chinese creeping crud"?

           James A. Landau
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