dimanche, juin 19, 2005

Ad infinitum

Your average French person uses these fancy Latin and Greek words to indicate different ailments and inflictions. I have only recently been able to decipher this part of office talk.

Someone recently suffered an "infarctus." From the expression on the face of the person telling me about it, and the use of the word "suffer" I figured it was serious, but I had no idea what part of the body it affected. I asked, of course, and learned that it is a "myocardial infarction" or a "coronary thrombosis". In other words, the brother done had a heart attack.

My favorite, because it seems that it is the next favorite subject to vacations, is "gastro" or "gastro enteritis." I figure this has to do with the estomac but is it a stomach flu? Or do you just have the runs? And exactly why do we talk about this so much?

Then, we have the ever popular "angine", which is a really scary sounding word for a sore throat. My dictionary informs me it is also means "tonsilitis and pharyngitis", which as far as I can tell, are scary English words for a damn sore throat.

But there is one instance in which I am less annoyed at the French scientific specificty. I remember when I learned the French word for Down Syndrome was "Trisomie 21". I was eating a cheeseburger with a French friend on our lunch break, and we saw a kid on the playground that obviously had the disorder. I explained that we called it Down Syndrome, and when he asked why, I ventured a guess that it was the guy who discovered its cause. He then told me the French called it "Trisomie 21."

Calling it Trisomie 21 couldn't be more exact or precise. With two words, you are informed and presumably reminded that:

- human chromosomes have been identified by number
- chromosomes come in pairs, and when they don't, things get funky
-when chromosome 21 has a third, extra copy, it causes a disorder that affects the shape of the skull, eyes, and nose, learning ability and muscle tone.

I prefer that to vaguely wondering who Mr. Down was.

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