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Clostridium difficile

Every time I hear someone on the BBC pronounce Clostridium difficile to rhyme with "wheel" instead of "hilly" it sets my teeth on edge.


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John Floyd on :

AMEN! I was taught incorrectly by a bacteriologist, and it was 30 years later that I finally corrected my error.

From "biological latin":

A final vowel is always voiced, as in flora, hero, Apollo.

fungi = "FUNJ-eye," i as in alibi
cocci = "COCKS-eye," i as in alibi
ovale = "oh-VAY-lee," e as in Daphne, hyperbole, anemone, Aphrodite, Chloe
difficile = "dif-ISS-il-ee," (as in the bacterial species name Clostridium difficile, C. difficile -"see dif-ISS-il-ee"), e as in Daphne, hyperbole, anemone, Aphrodite, Chloe
stapes = "STAY-peez" e as in Achilles, meninges, diabetes

Kev on :

I think maybe you're being a little pedantic!

My father almost died from it, years before it hit the headlines, and all the medical staff pronounced it to rhyme with 'wheel'.

Word pronunciation and spelling can change 'correctness' over time by de facto usage. If just about everyone rhymes it with 'wheel' and has done for 30 years or more, maybe you should accept that it's just as 'correct' as rhyming it with 'hilly' (which incidentally sounds silly to my ears now!)

Anthony Campbell on :

Possibly I am pedantic but I don't feel like apologising for it. I also dislike the increasing use of "bacteria" as a singular.

Of course language changes but that doesn't mean that all changes are improvements or even neutral.

I can't remember how we used to pronounce C. difficile thirty years ago in hospital -- in fact I can't remember it being mentioned at all. As a compromise, I'd favour abbreviating it to "C. diff."

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