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December 4, 1972

Overdose of Dese and Dose

JAMA. 1972;222(10):1308. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210100056021

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People who say "dese t'ings" and "dose guys" (often enough "dem guys") may not have a college degree but their speech is likely to be unencumbered and direct. In contrast, the utterances of many writers, among them medical authors, spill over into prolixity. They are wont to write, "Ten patients had gout. Of these ten patients, seven were incapacitated." Knock out the unnecessary second "ten patients" and you have "... Of these (or dese), seven were..." No one will misunderstand.

More commonly, one reads "Those patients who had hypertension were excluded from the study." Does one have to point a "those" finger at such patients? Drop it, save a useless word, and earn the thanks of editors who from time to time must rise up and rail at those (this is all right) who, sheep-like, keep copying the literary fads of their predecessors.