Archive for Language and medicine

German crime novels and high blood pressure

Don't jump to any conclusions based on the title.  This post is not about how reading German crime novels raises blood pressure.  Quite the contrary, it is about how reading German crime novels dramatically lowers blood pressure, at least for one of my friends.

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Christian Dior's "Quiproquo" cocktail dress and the florid rhubarb prescription written on it

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art has a very-well received exhibit, “China: Through the Looking Glass” (7 May–16 August, 2015), which “explores the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion and how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries.”

One of the objects displayed is a (rather fetching) "Quiproquo" cocktail dress by Christian Dior (1951), the calligraphic pattern of which is based on 19th-century rubbing from a 10th-century stele inscription describing a sudden illness, an abdominal pain. (You can see both here; they’re images 12 and 13 as you scroll down.)

Here's the dress:


Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957) for House of Dior (French, founded 1947)
"Quiproquo" cocktail dress, 1951
French
Silk, leather
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1953 (C.I.53.40.38a–d)
Photography © Platon

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Magi, myrrh, and mummies

'Tis the season!

We all know the story of the three Magi bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus.  In this post, I'll write about the two "m" words of the story, "magi" and "myrrh", touching briefly on "magi", but going into a bit more detail on "myrrh".  I'll leave it to others to talk about gold and frankincense, should they so desire, and will turn to the mummies toward the end of the post.

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Chinese characters and eyesight

There was an interesting article in the Economist a couple of day ago:  "Why So Many Chinese Children Wear Glasses" (11/9/2014)

Myopia is epidemic in China, and the percentage of those with this affliction is increasing each year.

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Dubious names for diseases in Chinese

In an article entitled "‘Idiotic’ Name for Dementia Sparks China Doctors’ Protest" that appeared in today's Bloomberg News, the question of the appropriateness of the names for various diseases is raised.  The article begins:

The Chinese name diseases based on symptoms, so diabetes is known as “sugary pee,” while a dyslexic “has trouble reading.” Dementia derives from two Chinese characters meaning “insane” and “idiotic.”

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"Sadomasochism" in Chinese

In "Has Sadomasochism Arrived? Confrontations of power at the level of sexuality in China", author Li Yinhe approves of the translation of the term "sadomasochism" as "nuedailian" in the following paragraph:

Also known as S&M, and sometimes abbreviated as SM or S/M, the terminology, "sadomasochism," was first developed by Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing. In Chinese, I use a term to signify "cruelty" and "love," first proposed by sociologist Pan Guangdan. I applaud the phrase, "nuedailian," both for its simplicity and recognition of conflicting dynamics, rather than a term that would only denote sadistic or intentionally harmful activities.

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A non-stigmatizing Chinese word for epilepsy

In an article entitled “A new symbol for epilepsy in Chinese", Mind Hacks asserts:

The Chinese character for epilepsy has been changed to avoid the inaccuracies and stigma associated with the previous label which suggested links to madness and, more unusually, animals.

The new name, which looks like this 腦癇症 just makes reference to the brain although the story of how the original name got its meaning is quite fascinating in itself.

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