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November 7, 1977

Hybrid Words

Author Affiliations

Lange Medical Publications Los Altos, Calif

JAMA. 1977;238(19):2060. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280200072031

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The duty owed by every educated speaker of a language is to let it live its own life without undue interference from authoritarian proscriptions. Elsewhere in this issue (p 2043), Dirckx has undertaken to say what may be the best last word on a problem of vocabulary formation that has been coming up for discussion periodically ever since the first physician with a classical education found a need to coin a word out of familiar elements drawn from Greek and Latin. Thus, the GE tract is not that but the GI tract. To say that GI ought to be GE is like making rules for birds to follow during their brief habitation of trees.

Our language is not given but bailed to us, and we owe it a duty of due care while it is in our fleeting possession. Our solemn charge as editors and writers is not to violate