July 1961

Tower of Babel 1961

Author Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine College of Medicine University of Iowa Iowa City

Arch Intern Med. 1961;108(1):4-7. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620070006002

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Some people float about in a linguistic fog and never forsake it for the world of clarity. Others care enormously but by nature or by training are so ill attuned to the felicitous use of words that they recognize neither their own stylistic lapses nor such lapses in others. They cannot even identify excellence when they see it. For a few sensitive souls a grammatical blunder produces a physical effect like being hit in the midriff by a not quite spent bullet. Such errors they may forgive but cannot forget. This state of linguistic hypersensitivity makes one's life miserable as one wades around through atrociously written medical articles, becoming engulfed in quicksands of cliches, jargon, and pseudosophisticated nonsense. But at least this sensitivity does have the merit of making the search for excellent medical writing or good speakers doubly rewarding whenever a gem is found. Despite all the granting agencies,

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