Rising words: “severe” and “assertive” do they mean what we believe?

I tried to make COVID-19 not appear in the text. I gave up and put it on the first line because very little of what is heard at this time escapes the framework of the pandemic, the post pandemic and the effects of the disease.

We know that there are words that originate from one scope and then populate all spaces of the conversation. At this time, all related to health vocabulary went to the top positions and today we all take care of “Sanitize” what before we would have “disinfected”. We have an emotional relationship with language: we choose words because we feel that they are more effective than others. Thus, anglicism “sanitize” – which derives from “to sanitize” – was more convincing to us and the “sanitizing rugs”, the “sanitizing gel” and the “food sanitization” are formulas that are seen and heard without stopping.

While this is happening, the right recommendation of Fundéu follows his path with less success than expected: “The verb disinfect, not sanitize, is the appropriate one in Spanish to refer, in the field of healthcare, to the action of ‘eliminating all or almost all pathogenic microbes, with the exception of bacterial spores, of the surface of an object or of a living being through the application of chemical or physical means “.

We have an emotional relationship with language: we choose words because we feel that they are more effective than others.

Severe is neither serious nor serious

More or less the same occurs with another very frequent way to describe the picture or the evolution of a patient: “The former president was again admitted with a picture of severe pneumonia” As in the case of “sanitize”, this use of “severe” arises from the contamination of the English word: “A severe crisis”, “a severe slowdown in the economy”. For these examples, in Spanish we have “serious”, “serious” or “important”.

What is “severe” used for? To allude to stiffness, roughness or rigor of an individual or an action. In the dictionary, we find this definition: 1. That it is strict and rigorous when applying a law or a rule: “a very severe judge”; 2. That he is very intransigent with the faults or weaknesses of others or his own: “a very severe teacher with the students”.

As always, the tension between speech and language becomes apparent, and speech generally wins the game. Since the meaning of “Severe” as a synonym for “serious” is being imposed, it is very possible that it will end up being accepted. This would be, once again, a sample of dictionary flexibility and capacity to accompany the speakers taking care that the system remains stable.

Assertive is not accurate

The adjective “assertive” derives from the noun “assertiveness” which is understood as the ability to be confident both to express an opinion and to defend one’s rights.

The noun does not appear in the dictionary, but the adjective “assertive, iva” can be found, which refers to the idea of ​​affirmation: 1. adj. affirmative, 2. adj. Psicol. Said of a person: who expresses his opinion firmly.

Confusion appears when this adjective is related to others as “true”, “certain” or “correct”. Examples abound where it appears misused: “After two consultations, he had an assertive diagnosis”, “he doubted that the test result was assertive”. In both cases, it should say “true”, “accurate” or “correct”.

Sometimes looking for a synonym or trying to put a more specific term leads to making a mistake or adding artificiality to the speech. There are two rules that do not fail: “less is more” and “choosing the simplest forms serves to be clearer and communicate better”.

Written by Argentina News

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