December 11th, 2014


Medice, medice, dona mihi nuntium

(Tr: Doctor, doctor, give me the news)

I was visiting a patient in the hospital today. His nurse and one of his doctors were there at the same time. They were talking about something, and the nurse referred to a body part she pronounced something like "quadiaquina," where "quadia-" rhymes with Claudia and "-quina" has a long I, as in Quinine. I was mystified. It didn't sound like any kind of term in any kind of language I had ever encountered.

In explaining it to the patient and family, she drew a picture of a bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal column. She labeled it and pronounced it carefully as two words, "quadia uh-quina." But I had already translated it as "horse's tail" as soon as I saw it written. It was in Latin, cauda equina. Now, I would have pronounced that "COW-da EH-quin-a," with a short I as in Quint. But then, I actually took Latin in high school. I'm sure the nurse has only encountered Latin terms in anatomy class, where things probably get pronounced any which way.

The doctor, by the way, pronounced the term more or less the same way. But then, he was of some South Asian ethnicity, and his accent, though not pronounced, was obviously not formed by speaking English, let alone Latin. His grasp of idiom could use some work, too; twice, he said that we had to take a particular datum "with a salt of grain." So, he's not going to correct some Hoosier's pronunciation of Latin.

I'm not trying to be a snob, here. I'm just amazed that anybody manages to communicate the right thing, particularly in such critical care venues, when they mangle the words so. Or is there some special "medical Latin" pronunciation that goes along with the illegible-to-outsiders prescription handwriting code?

The Answer is No.

I received an on-line invitation to give to a fund developed by Syrian doctors in memory of "Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig." The answer is No. I will not give to any fund that mentions him by the name he was forced to assume in captivity. I will not grovel before the murderers. I will not call him by that name. Forced conversion under threat of torture and death is a heinous act, and I will not cooperate with it. A fund in memory of "Peter Kassig" I would consider.

The war being waged by ISIS and al Qaida and the other Muslim thugs is an ideological war. If they can get us to use their words, think their thoughts -- they win. No matter how many we kill. Even if we defeat them in every battle. And the battle is not between Christianity and Islam, particularly; the fact that Peter Kassig was raised Methodist, the grandson of one of my colleagues in this Conference, aids great pain to his death, but does not affect the structure of the conflict. Westerners, especially Americans, are prime targets, even if they have no faith to promote. Even if they convert to Islam. The terrorists want to demonstrate the superiority of their belief system, of Islam as they understand it. And they want us to know ourselves to be bettered in the demonstration. They want us to submit, not just be defeated.

Their views are of no interest to me. They're scum. I will not submit.