Pediatric Orthopaedics?

OK. What's the deal with the E & AE thing?


Is it
Pediatric Orthopedics
Pediatric Orthopaedics


Hmmm? Well?


Ho boy. The founder of our field named it Orthopædics.

The idea was to use Greek. Greek ortho means straight. Greek pæd means child. So, a field of medicine to make children straight. Cool. In the early versions the 'th' was a theta - the Greek single letter for which there was no Latin version (as too with ph in Latin for the Greek letter phi).

However, our specialty got twisted. Total hips and such are not the stuff of kiddie work. Indeed, the predominant thrust of orthopædics today isn't kids. If you really look close, the bulk has to do with repair of worn out stuff and chronic pain syndromes. Pain and old parts.

So, what are we (the ones still treating kids), chopped liver? They took our name! Those rotten...


We had to reassert ourselves. Our name became :
 pediatric orthopædics in the process, meaning  to make
^^^ children -   ^^^and we DO mean children - straight.


Oooooo, a problem. We borrowed the first part from the pediatricians and that name is as solid as a name gets. Annnnnnnnnd - it's LATIN!!!!!!!

pæd is child in Greek, but Latin doesn't use that spelling. Latin uses ped to mean child. Greek ped means foot. Do we limit ourselves to feet? Nope. Hey. AE is not the same as Æ either!  AE is, well, an A and an E. But Æ is a diphthong!

Where do those come from? Most diphthongs are holdovers from other languages. When you see any English word with the F sound written as PH - you KNOW  that the word was borrowed indirectly from Greek BY WAY OF LATIN. It is, in this form, Latin.  Just as many English words were once something else, they are still, as spoken from our lips, English. A word with PH was LATIN when it was borrowed. Not Greek. Why? Latin had no original sound or letter for  phi so it made do, using PH, to signify phi.


Same with TH. That, too, is LATIN - borrowed from Greek theta.

Alas, the poor diphthong Æ was dropped from English FORMALLY and by general agreement. In 1775, Samuel Johnson drove a stake through its heart. He said in his dictionary about it :

    ...  not properly to have any place in the English; since the æ of the Saxons has been long out of use... and the æ of the Romans is in the same way altered [to e -- not ae].


Noah Webster did not revive it. So American English has no history of sustaining the Æ.


Furthermore, the single name Pediatric Orthopedics is just that, a single name . Thus, consistency extends to the first term. We ought not have a first term in Latin form followed by a Greek root.

Aha, but 'ORTHO' IS GREEK , you say!

Mmmmmm. Maybe. But along with Greek gods, great literature, and even greater statuary, the Romans adopted many Greek words, adding them to Latin, including ORTHO. It's both. The 'th' is the give away.

And the 'A E'? It is a typographic fudge as far as I can tell. As with a 2 in poker, depends on house rules.

It isn't just that Æ is not better. Look at the company it keeps. Latin words with æ are:

    pædico - practitioner of unnatural acts
    pædor - filth
    pælicatus - concubinage

    and as a general rule, stuff with less than savory implications.

The kicker and the ultimate argument against Æ is strong. Spelling alternatives for similar LOOKING words determine pronunciation. The æ dipthong is pronounced "EYE" as in FIND. Do the spellers of that choice say ortho-py-dics? No. They say eee, which is not only an 'e', but an Anglicized 'e' at that.

The rule of language evolution has been to simplify words in general usage. I would like to think that our field, having had its name kidnapped once, would assert itself to simpler form for its own sake.

Following the  KISS principle  [keep it simple, sapiens] I choose 'e' and worry about scholastics who don't get their facts correct as they vent disdain over orthopedics.

 We, the criticized,  who prefer an argument of simplicity (guided by William of Ockham) hope that they can abandon outdated surgical habits with greater ease than they do nasty old spellings.

So there! Pflssssssssssst.