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June 24, 1961

Laënnec Vs. Laennec

Author Affiliations

Curator, Boston Medical Library 8 The Fenway, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1961;176(12):1052. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040250078024

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To the Editor:—  The question of dividing Laennec's name into 3 syllables and indicating this by separation of the vowel elements in the diphthong with a diaeresis over the second initial vowel has long been contended with (JAMA175:706, 1961). Most authorities have now adopted the spelling as "Laennec," with the pronunciation as 2 syllables instead of 3. The matter was considered by the late William Sydney Thayer when he gave his address before the Johns Hopkins Hospital Medical Society in 1920 in celebration of the centenary of the publication of Laennec's famous Traité. He wrote as follows:"The name, Celtic in origin, comes probably from the word "Lenn" which signifies study or reading; it might properly be translated "reader" or "man of study." It is pronounced as if it were spelled "Lennec"; that is, it should so be pronounced. Oddly enough, even in France, it is commonly mispronounced

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