VIII - " - 2012" (4-5 2012.)


. ,


In the context of medicine an eponym is defined as a disease, structure, or species named after a particular person, usually the person who first discovered or described it [4, p. 248] . Eponyms are particularly abundant in medicine as well as in all branches of science. Since ancient times proper names have been applied to anatomic structures, syndromes, diseases, medications, procedures, operations, instruments. Eponyms usually commemorate actual persons, but some derive from literature or mythology. For example, Ulysses syndrome (extensive diagnostic investigations conducted because of a false-positive result in the course of routine laboratory screening); Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome (dramatic changes in the behaviour of elderly patients); Munchausen syndrome (a mental disorder in which the patient persistently tries to obtain invasive hospital treatment for an illness that is nonexistent); Lazarus complex (spontaneous return of circulation after attempts to resuscitate fail). Besides, geographic eponyms, or toponyms , also occur in medical nomenclature (e.g., Lyme disease , a form of arthritis caused by tick-borne bacteria, was named for the town of Lyme , Connecticut , where the first cases occurred).

In English there are a number of ways of forming eponyms. The most common way is to add the apostrophe s to the name of a person. It is called the synthetic genitive, possessive case. Terms of this type honour persons who first described or reported the things named (e.g., Hodgkins disease a malignant disease of lymphatic tissue). The synthetic genitive also appears in eponyms based on the names of persons who suffered from, or even died of, the conditions named (e.g., Potts fracture fracture of the lower part of the fibula; Mussets sign rhythmical jerking movement of the head seen in cases of aortic aneurism and aortic insufficiency; Carrions disease bartonellosis infection by Bartonella bacilliformis , transmitted by sandflies ), or in terms referring to occupations or classes of person (e.g., gamekeepers thumb, pigeon-breeders lung ) [1] .

Another way of forming eponyms is to use a proper noun without the apostrophe s , that is, the use of the proper noun as an adjective. It is known as a substantival adjunct, uninflective type (e.g., Petri dish , Simpson light , Morgan unit ). This form is commonly used with compound proper names referring to more than one person (e.g., Pellegrini-Stieda disease, Morgagni -Adams-Stokes syndrome ). It is commonly applied for eponyms referring to surgical instruments ( Adson forceps , Wandensteen tube , Kocher clamp , Levin tube , Velpeau bandage ), methods or techniques ( Yuzpe method, Gram stain, Pfannestiel incision ), genetic factors or familial disorders ( Christmas disease a relatively mild type of haemophilia , caused by lack of a protein (Christmas factor) implicated in the process of blood clotting ). This form of forming eponyms is used for terms based on the names of literary characters ( Achilles tendon the fibrous cord that connects the muscles of the calf to the heelbone , Oedipus complex repressed sexual feelings of a child for its opposite-sexed parent, combined with rivalry towards the same-sexed parent) and toponyms ( Malta fever another term for undulant fever). In addition, this form is often chosen for proper names ending in s (e.g., Allis sign relaxation of the fascia between the crest of the ilium and the greater trochanter : a sign of fracture of the neck of the femur; Capgras syndrome a form of delusional misidentification in which the patient believes that other persons in the environment are not their real selves but doubles; Graves disease a syndrome of diffuse hyperplasia of the thyroid, with a female predominance).

An eponym can be formed by using a truncated form of the proper noun (isolated proper noun, used in place of substantival adjunct + principal noun) (e.g., a positive Babinski an abnormal reflex elicited when the sole of the foot is firmly stroked causing the big toe to extend and the other toes to fan out; to insert a Foley (catheter)) [5] . These terms sound less formal than complete expressions. However, they are widely applied in speech.

Another way of forming eponyms is verb derivation (e.g., to kocherise to dissect the duodenum from the right-sided peritoneal attachment for allowing mobilization and visualization of the back of the duodenum and pancreas; to pasteurize to subject products to a process of partial sterilization, especially one involving heat treatment or irradiation, thus making products safe for consumption), or noun derivation (e.g., narcissism excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance, darwinism the theory of the evolution of species by natural selection advanced by Charles Darwin, parkinsonism another term for Parkinson's disease, bartholinitis inflammation of Bartholin's gland, typically accompanied by cysts or abscesses).

Eponyms can be formed by using the analytic genitive with the word of (e.g., the circle of Willis cerebral arterial circle, an anastomosis between the two vertebral and two internal carotid arteries; vein of Marshall oblique vein of left atrium).

Until recently, eponyms containing synthetic genitives were the most numerous in medical English. The language is currently undergoing a change in which eponyms of this possessive type are being replaced by variants containing proper nouns in uninflected form. Although the synthetic genitive in English medical eponyms is based on centuries of linguistic tradition, it is viewed by some scientists as a source of inconsistency, uncertainty, and errors. Although the problem was identified more than 30 years ago when an international working group clearly recommended discontinuation of all possessive forms, the problem still remains unresolved. The study of Jana N. et al . [3] showed that in European publications possessive eponyms are commonly used, while in north American counterparts the nonpossessive forms of medical eponyms are predominantly applied. Gradual decline of possessive form is evident in print and electronic publications. It is considered that nonpossessive form of eponyms is more efficient, simple and non-confusing and has both linguistic support and endorsement by major international organizations.

The list of references :

1. Dirckx J.H. The synthetic genitive in medical eponyms: Is it doomed to extinction? Panace @ 2001 . vol. 2 . No 5 . p.15 24 .

2. Dorlands Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 29 th edition . 2000 . 2088 p.

3. Jana N., Barik S., Arora N. Current use of medical eponyms a need for global uniformity in scientific publications. BMC Medical Reserch Methodology. 2009 vol. 9 p. 18

4. Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2007 807 p.

5. Teo Eng Swee C. Eponyms in medicine SMA News 2007 vol.39( 8) p. 21 23 .