[Ads-l] Disease names and geography

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 1 21:43:02 EDT 2021


> On May 1, 2021, at 8:56 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> It would probably be difficult to convince journalists and newscasters
> to use names like "B117 variant". Shorter and simpler names for
> variants would be helpful. Four character alphanumeric strings are
> unlikely to achieve much traction.
> 
> Journalists might be willing to use names like Covid alpha variant,
> Covid beta variant, Covid gamma variant, et cetera. But a scientific
> body would have to assign those names. Scientists are probably
> identifying an enormous number of variants at this time based on the
> mutating genetic sequence of the virus. Therefore, to follow this
> naming scheme only a subset of variants should be given simpler names
> based on prevalence or importance.
> 
> The WHO guidelines for disease naming also state:
> Disease names may NOT include people’s names.
> Examples to be avoided: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Chagas disease.

So no Alzheimer’s, Tourette’s, Tay-Sachs?  Does it matter if the disease or syndrome is named for the doctor who discovered it?
 
> 
> Interestingly, the tropical cyclone naming scheme in the U.S. is based
> on common (and uncommon) first names. The 2021 list includes: Ana,
> Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred. Are people unhappy when their
> first name is also the name of a deadly hurricane?

At least they alternate sexes now.  My cat never really recovered from all the awful things everyone said about Hurricane Katrina.  

LH
> 
> https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml
> 
> Garson
> 
> On Sat, May 1, 2021 at 8:17 PM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>> Yes, that's what I was referencing with **Don't Encourage Prejudice and
>> Hatred**-- or rather the converse: *inferring* from an ethnonymic nosonym*,
>> such as "Chinese flu", that the population referred to is an enemy.
>> 
>> WcBut the media's excuse for using geographic names, if they need one,
>> would be staying comprehensible to their readers, who are not researchers
>> in this field and can't reasonably be expected to remember which numbered
>> variant does what.
>> 
>> *nosonym: name for a disease.
>> I coined this word myself, starting from *nosocomial infection *(one
>> acquired in a hospital). On investigation I found, to my relief, that I was
>> not alone, much less the pioneer. From the Compact OED:
>>>>>>> 
>> *Noso:* combining form of Gr. *νόσος* disease, used in a number of
>> compounds, chiefly pathological...
>> <<<<<
>> 
>> Respectfully submitted,
>> Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological
>> Busybody,
>> Editor and Proofreader
>> aka Mark A. Mandel
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Sat, May 1, 2021, 6:47 PM Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>>> 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

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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