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May 23, 1896


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1896;XXVI(21):1007-1011. doi:10.1001/jama.1896.02430730009001b

One of the most amusing inconsistencies of a small class of minds otherwise progressive, scientific and rational, is their unreasoning conservatism concerning the spelling and use of certain words. In any other subject, for instance therapeutics or surgery, they will welcome investigation, and further it, admitting the duty of improving upon the old, and of pushing on toward a more simple and perfect science. But when you suggest that language, the tool of thought, deserves consideration, is very clumsy and archaic, is capable of being improved—at once they shrink and are shocked at your temerity.

This attitude of hatred of innovation in one single field of human activity, while admitting the law of progess in all other departments, is also coupled with a second inconsistency; a dogmatism of conviction that the change or modification of language urged is barbarous, almost sacrilegious, that you are a sort of ill-bred upstart in

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