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Article
October 1935

THE TYRANNY OF WORDS

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1935;32(4):545-550. doi:10.1001/archderm.1935.01470040002001
Abstract

In his essay entitled "Truth in Intercourse" Stevenson said that "the business of life is mainly carried on by this difficult art of literature" and proceeded to point out the difficulty of conveying accurately to another the thoughts one has in mind. "The difficulty is not to write, but to write what you mean, not to affect the reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish." The speaker can convey shades of meaning by intonation, but this resource is denied the writer for whom the printed word is the only medium of expression—and for the general purposes of the publication and discussion of medical ideas the printed word only is available. If the meaning of the word is vague or variable, it will certainly be interpreted differently by different readers. Take the common word "acne." I counted thirty-two different kinds of acne listed in the index of a

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