LETTER – ‘Armchair Linguist’ says an emergency is an emergency

In Kamloops we have a gentleman who writes a column and calls himself the ‘Armchair Mayor’ and he provides his prospective on different situations in our city and province.

Having been working in healthcare for 20+ years and seen things from both the prospective of a patient and a healthcare provider and also having a love of all things logical I I think I’m going to call myself the ‘Armchair Patient’ or maybe ‘Armchair Linguist’ and here is my first musing:

I’m having trouble with phrases such as ‘very critical’ ‘and ‘urgent emergency’……..are the descriptors really necessary? ‘Critical’ is critical and an ‘emergency’ is an emergency. Are we such a dramatic society now that basic words like ‘emergency’, ‘’critical’ and ‘abnormal’ have lost their impact and we now need the descriptors?

Don’t get me wrong, I know the difference between slicing an artery with a kitchen knife and having a heart attack – but aren’t they both emergencies? When we call 911 do we say ‘uh, it’s only ‘kind of’ an emergency that my blood is spurting out of my arm – it’s not a ‘huge’ emergency’ ? NO!! Because an emergency is an emergency.

If I fall down and break my ankle is it an emergency? No. Do I need to go TO emergency – yes. This is where the English language gets tricky – am I using ‘emergency’ as a noun, modifier or adjective? Am I using oxymorons such as ‘minor emergency’? The word ‘oxymoron’ itself is oxymoronic.

A throat swab comes back positive for strep and that makes it an abnormal result. Is it ‘very’ abnormal or ‘sort of’ abnormal? Nope! It’s either a yes or no answer – positive or negative, abnormal or normal. It’s like saying ‘I’m slightly pregnant’. Huh? Either you are or you aren’t.

Maybe it’s my fevered mind and all these holistic and not-so-wholistic remedies I’m taking but those are the things that I’m thinking about today. I think I need to get back to work………rapidly fast.


About Mel Rothenburger (7716 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on LETTER – ‘Armchair Linguist’ says an emergency is an emergency

  1. Beverley Thies Campbell // March 24, 2019 at 4:57 PM // Reply

    What Marcus said.

  2. Marcus Lowe // March 22, 2019 at 7:35 AM // Reply

    It is a credit to the forum that this kind of feedback is considered for posting.

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