[Ads-l] Disease names and geography

Margaret Winters mewinters at WAYNE.EDU
Sat May 1 19:15:38 EDT 2021


This is true in many cases (consider syphilis as the French disease in Britain and the English disease in France).  But there arises a danger as well of perceiving others as enemies because a disease is named for them: think of the so-called British variant of COVID right now?

Margaret

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MARGARET E WINTERS
Former Provost
Professor Emerita - French and Linguistics
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI  48202

mewinters at wayne.edu


________________________________
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Saturday, May 1, 2021 6:46 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Subject: Re: Disease names and geography

[EXTERNAL]

Isn't the problem the human tendency to name diseases after enemies?

On Sat, May 1, 2021, 4:02 PM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:

> It's a good idea socially -- i.e., *Don't Encourage Prejudice and Hatred*
> -- but geographical names are a heck of a lot easier for most people to
> remember than arbitrary strings of letters and digits.
>
> MAM
>
> On Sat, May 1, 2021, 3:13 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > The World Health Organization has suggested that disease names should
> > not include geographical markers. (See the citation and excerpt at the
> > end of this message.) Hence, the name of the infectious disease
> > causing the current pandemic deliberately did not include "Wuhan",
> > "China", or "Asian". Instead, the name Covid-19 was constructed.
> >
> > Interestingly, the major news organizations are not following this
> > advice when reporting about variants of Covid-19. For example, the
> > names "UK variant" and "South African variant" are employed in news
> > reports from CNN and BBC.
> >
> > Perhaps this will change over time.
> >
> > Here is a report from CNN last month. The title prominently features
> > the name "UK variant". The accompanying video shows the Director of
> > the CDC Rochelle Walensky, and she uses the term "B117 variant", but
> > the journalists mention "UK variant".
> >
> > Website: CNN
> > Title: UK variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in the US,
> > says CDC chief
> > Author:  Betsy KIein (CNN)
> > Date: April 7, 2021
> >
> >
> https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/07/us/uk-variant-dominant-coronavirus-strain/index.html
> >
> > [Begin excerpt of transcribed text]
> > Journalist: The CDC director just moments ago at the White House
> > briefing said that the UK variant is now the most prevalent strain in
> > the Unites States. Listen to this.
> > Rochelle Walensky: The B117 variant is now the most common lineage
> > circulating in the United States.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Website: BBC
> > Title: Covid: Fears of 'impending doom' in Pakistan
> > Author: Abid Hussain
> > Date: April 30, 2021
> > https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56888541
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > One of the key drivers which led Pakistan to this stage was the
> > arrival of the UK variant, as confirmed by Umar during second week of
> > March. He later declared it to be more dangerous than the original
> > strain.
> > But the variant has collided with something else: apathy.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Website: BBC
> > Title: Moderna vaccine appears to work against variants
> > Author: Michelle Roberts
> > Date: January 25, 2021
> > https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55797312
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient
> > antibodies to achieve this neutralising effect, although it was not as
> > strong for the South Africa variant as for the UK one.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Website: WHO.int
> > Title: World Health Organization Best Practices for the Naming of New
> > Human Infectious Diseases
> > Date: May 2015
> >
> >
> https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/163636/WHO_HSE_FOS_15.1_eng.pdf
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > Disease names may NOT include:
> > Geographic locations: Cities, countries, regions, continents
> >
> > Examples to be avoided:
> > Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Spanish Flu, Rift Valley fever, Lyme
> > disease, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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