Ditch the digraphBMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7549.1071-a (Published 04 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1071
- Marcus Gore ([email protected]), resident surgical officer
- St Mark's Hospital, Harrow
A surgeon uses a ligature to tie off a bleeding vessel, although the word is somewhat archaic and conjures up an image of John Hunter tying off a popliteal aneurysm. Yet lexical ligatures cast a long shadow, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Medical language is full of words containing ae and oe: although these pairs are now printed as separate vowels (digraphs), a look in an older text will reveal their earlier form as ligatures ∞ and œ. Haemoglobin and oesophagus show no signs of losing ae and oe respectively, and some august surgeons and physicians are inordinately proud of …
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