Medical Linguistics Consulting was formed in 1998 to meet the need for an approach to medical usage which acknowledges that the English language is constantly changing—we are constantly changing it. When new words enter the language, terms must jostle for turf. This terminologic warfare creates much confusion in usage and in the prescriptive rules that govern it. Meanings overlap (incidence vs. prevalence). Variants compete (Golgi apparatus, Golgi complex) or clash (preventive vs. preventative). We can’t mediate a satisfactory settlement in such conflicts without knowing the terrain on which they are being played out. The terrain is the English language.
We have a say in how English terms will be used. But we don’t have total control because whatever guidelines we formulate belong to the context of earlier usage and earlier guidelines. Even as we make decisions for today’s language, we must remember and respect what we did in the past.
Medical Linguistics Consulting is headed by Janet Byron Anderson PhD, a professionally trained linguist. Besides writing on medical language issues (see Publications), she also works as a medical editor, and as a consultant to researchers, agencies, and publishers. (See Services.)
As a complement to this work, she writes MedicaLinguistics Updates, articles that analyze medical language problems and suggest guidelines for usage. The Updates are now being revised, and will soon be made available through the site.
The information on this site does not constitute advice or counselling related to health or other medical needs. For these needs consult your doctor or health-care professional.