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November 1964

Tower of Babel 1964

Author Affiliations


Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospitals, State University of Iowa.

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(5):590-593. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860110060002

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Central to the problems of communication and exchange of ideas is pronunciation, which is but a portion of the large problem of accent, inflection, emphasis, and stress—the way words clarify or obscure the transfer of ideas. Although we may be temporarily distracted when a foreigner pronounces English with strange garbling we usually do the same to his language. It is all too evident that we are able to butcher the pronunciation of our own too. One of the few traits I can claim to have in common with Abraham Lincoln is the ability to spell any given word three different ways, though long use of several well-worn dictionaries has weakened this habit. I have changed some pronunciations but generally am consistent. One hears people who are so uncertain that they will pronounce a word two or more ways in the same paragraph, hoping the average will be better than opting

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