Of the scientific and current names of diseases

Of the scientific and current names of diseases

The disease is an “alteration of the normal state of health of a being, which is manifested by signs or symptoms, which may or may not be noticeable” (Infopedia) and the name comes from Latin illen dolērewhich means “to feel pain.”

Diseases have a scientific name, created by specialists and often accompanied by an abbreviated form, which is usually based on their etiology (cause); In addition to this scientific name, language communities almost always create one or more common names, motivated by their symptoms, signs, and other features that can be seen with the naked eye, such as “mumps” and “cookies.” “(inflammation). throat); “bovine spongiform encephalopathy” (disease of cattle, the brain of which acquires a sponge-like appearance) and “mad cow disease”; “allergic rhinitis” (inflammation of the nasal mucosa due to an allergy) and “hay fever”. In addition to being generally different, scientific and current names play different roles in the community and in communication: the scientific name may be more or less cryptic (e.g., brachygraphic forms, foreign words), but it must be monosemic. a single meaning), recognized by the scientific community and health authorities, which allows them to talk to each other without ambiguity; the current name is what allows normal people to talk about diseases, among themselves and in dialogue with specialists (ie doctors) and with health authorities, in a communication that is meant to be clear, coinciding that it is vernacular, so transparent. as possible and that promotes understanding of the concept and discourse. Ultimately, specialists and health authorities must master both scientific and current denominations; for ordinary mortals it is enough to know the present name of the disease. Sometimes the scientific name or its contracted form goes directly into the spotlight, for example, “AIDS” (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and “covid-19” (coronavirus disease / coronavirus disease 2019) – and so the scientific name and the current party.

The last few years have been prodigal in the (re) emergence of new diseases and others that we thought were extinct or limited to other areas – for example, AIDS, covid-19, tuberculosis, measles -, generating new words or the reappearance of others. . In recent weeks there has been talk of smallpox (or monkeypox), due to the appearance of cases of the disease in humans. “Monkeypox” is the current name of the disease in Portuguese, vernacular, transparent and clear, consisting of “smallpox” (because it is related) and “smallpox”, regular guests. The disease is caused by a virus of the genus orthopoxvirusO smallpox virus (note the replacement of scientific Latin by modern English, with italics and initial capital letters). The current name of the disease in English, smallpoxis built with monkey (mono) i smallpoxvariant of pockswhich literally means “pustule” and is part of the common name for various diseases (chickenpox, chickenpox, smallpox i French smallpox) or is its abbreviated form.

To suggest that, in public communication, the vernacular “smallpox of the monkey” should be replaced by smallpox not only is it an aberration, as it goes against the basic principles of communication, but it is also the supreme manifestation of Portuguese submission to the English language and its ineffable chatter. Quoting Carmo Afonso, on the decoration of the nurse Luis (13-06-2022), “It’s not enough to be poor, we also have to be stupid.”


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