Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Shrink By Any Other Name

The Koreans watch our language use pretty closely. I was reminded of this the other day when I explained to Mr Hwang that 'actress' describes a female actor, but 'actor'
can describe either sex. "Why not 'actperson'?" he asked. The best answer I had was, "Give it time. No one has thought of it yet--you're ahead of the curve." Then I had to explain 'ahead of the curve'. But I digress.

From today's Dong-A Ilbo comes a story titled Shrinks to Use New Term for 'Psychiatry'. In essence, since the term psychiatry has a societal stigma associated with it, the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association is casting about for a "better-sounding" term. Never mind the use of shrink in the headline. According to the article,
New names on the shortlist include “brain psychology”; “mental and physical science”; “stress science”; “neuro-stress science”; “neuropsychology”; “neuropsychiatry”; “mental health;” “mental stress”; and “psychiatric medicine.” ...
Association spokesman Lee Dong-woo said, “Our members are engaged in a wide variety of specialties and have different interests in the name-changing issue. It’s really tough to find a comprehensive shiny term to please them all. We will survey the preferences of members before deciding on a name.”

Despite Westerners' here ongoing amusement at Konglish in our daily lives, it is heartening (or, more precisely, disheartening) to see them embrace the American penchant for "comprehensive shiny terms" to distort, hide or ambiguate meaning on purpose.

In related news, the US Republican Party was considering a name-change to Party of Vertical Income Redistribution, until party leaders were accidentally caught live on mic snickering "And we don't mean downward, baby!"

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