JOHN F. BURNUM, M.D.
Folk medical language, as spoken in western Alabama, contains medical dialect terms that have an ancient lineage, with structure and meaning very similar to those of their earliest roots. The dialect has precise medical meanings and is used with astonishing accuracy by patients. Terms and phrases are often diagnostic as well as colorfully descriptive. An appreciation of medical dialect makes practice more fun, history taking and diagnosis easier, and lessens misunderstandings with patients. It sharpens the physician's senses to every level of what patients feel and say, verbal and otherwise. An appreciation of dialect heightens respect for patients and gives the physician a sense of continuity with cultures and ages past. Understanding and respect for medical dialect can be a powerful aid to patient care.
BURNUM JF. Dialect Is Diagnostic. Ann Intern Med. ;100:899–901. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-100-6-899
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1984;100(6):899-901.
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