, Volume 22, Issue 12, p 1781
Date: 09 Oct 2007

Medical Linguistics

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Sometimes she spoke his name and he didn’t look up. Then she said doctor and he turned to her, smiling.

The change in him was quick: a sudden loss of the subjunctive, regular episodes of adjectival incontinence, the excision of dependent clauses from his vocabulary. At first, he called his work the opposite of fun. He told her residency was war, each work night a battle. He said decisions were orders, admissions were hits, teachers were generals, and interns were grunts. I can’t believe it, he said, they train us to take care of problems, not people.

Post-call, he explained, he wore rumpled day-old polyester pajamas while his teachers stood before him, freshly washed and fully clothed. Teaching was pimping, he said, and told her about the general with the big rock and bigger rack. After that, when he said pimping, she imagined breathy questions in the hushed dusk of a patient’s room, tongue-moistened rose-blush lips discharging facts along colorless corridors, a teacher’s hands caressing ...