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Cuts sutures and leaves: grammar advice from a surgeon?

“A preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.”

— Winston Churchill

“As far as I’m concerned, ‘whom’ is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.” — Calvin Trillin

This week, University Communications released the Queen’s University Style Guide. A tool like this is a really good thing. The guide is a useful and quick reference to clarify style and best writing practices, and improve the consistency of communications across the university. Everyone in the Faculty of Health Sciences should bookmark this site or download the pdf.

For the record, I would no more recommend seeking grammar advice from this former surgeon than I would recommend asking an English professor to perform an intubation!

I realize that I weigh in on matters grammatical at my peril.

Debate about punctuation, judging an assertive writing “voice”, and many things related to the proper use of the English language can be a full-contact sport.

Medicine certainly is not exempt. For example: pediatric/paediatric, gynaecology/gynecology and orthopedic/orthopaedic. According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research English Style Guide, the “ae” is not to be used. So what about the Canadian Paediatrics Society? The CIHR guide also recommends, “aesthetic NOT esthetic”. The Canadian Aesthetics Society would agree. Seneca College’s esthetician program may take issue.

This isn’t meant as a criticism, rather it underscores the need for a style guide and I thank University Communications for providing this tool for Queen’s University.  DeanOnCampus and the Faculty of Health Sciences will make every effort to adhere to the rules and guidelines from our new style guide.

If you have any anecdotes or hints about grammar, writing style, commonly misspelled words, please comment on this blog. Better yet, drop by my office at the Macklem House…my door is always open.

 

Richard

Stuart Reid

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:44

Perhaps the medical voice recognition software should pay heed. I was slightly horrified when one plesant grandmother with Parkinson’s Disease was described not as having “masked facies,” but instead “masked feces.”

Stuart Reid

Victor Stollar, Medicine 56

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:44

I enjoyed your column this week very much, and I suspect that you will receive many more responses this week than you usually do.
I did go to the web site and scrolled down through “common confusions” and came to affect/effect.
I would take exception to what the guide says in that affect can be a noun (e.g. the patient’s affect) and effect can be used as a verb (e.g. to effect change in health care).
I hope I am standing on firm ground here, but one never knows.

Victor Stollar, Medicine 56

Michael Sanders

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:45

Wonderful review we all should read … Good English is tough stuff. Would that we all conveyed the precision and clarity these rules provide!

Michael Sanders

David May. Meds62

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 14:45

Another Churchillean quote with respect to grammar was his immediate reply to an opposition member’s criticism of Churchill ending a sentence with a preposition while speaking in The House. He replied,” This (such criticism) is something up with which I shall not put!”

David May. Meds62

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