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Article |

When You Cannot Be Right

John Archer, MD
JAMA. 1980;244(22):2527. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310220025019.
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ELSEWHERE in this issue (p 2520), Dene T. Walters, MD, acknowledges without fundamental dissent that language changes, but he deplores some of the forms and processes of change, particularly in pronunciation. While I am less annoyed than he by some of his specific examples, I share his general sentiments.

I do not believe that Dr Walters can validly contend that processes ending with a long e is not even a word; standard dictionaries recognize it as an acceptable alternate pronunciation. I know of no firm rule regarding the plural of abscess.

Surely, however, a perversion is eroding our culture when dictionaries come to accept, as they do, the pronunciation of centimeter as if the speaker were snoring. The plain affectation of a few people a few decades ago came to be regarded as the norm by numerous others and now has been accorded respectability by those who knew better all


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