Monday, March 27, 2017


The Lancet has started a series about "syndemics" (may require a subscription).   Not a term I have come across before.   But not a new one, either.

It is to do with the interaction of diseases, and environmental and other factors.   The diseases or conditions have an influence on each other, and this is what differentiates syndemics from multimorbidity or comorbidity.

The term was devised by the anthropologist Merrill Singer, whose book Introduction to syndemics appeared in 2009.  Singer developed the "emergent concept" of syndemics "as part of an ongoing effort to rethink the public health and social scientific understanding of disease so that it focused attention on the multifaceted interactions that occur among the health of a community, political and economic structures, and the encompassing physical and social environment."  (Singer, 2009, p. xiii).  Singer was co-author of a paper in 2003 on the same subject, so definitely not a new subject, even if I have never heard of the word before!

Here are some other resources about syndemics:

Medical Anthropology Wiki.

A collection of articles on Co-Infection and Syndemics, from BioMed Central.

Syndemics Project, Florida International University.


Singer, Merrill, ed. (2009). Introduction to Syndemics.  John Wiley & Sons.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

My pronouns are...

I recently saw an email, at the end of which was the statement:

"My pronouns are she/her/hers".

When talking about someone, for example, "go and talk to the librarian, and [pronoun] will help you", which pronoun do you use if you don't know the gender of that person?   If you use "he" or "she", that is gender specific and may not match the gender of the person.  "It" doesn't really work to refer to people.   I'd use "they".

But which pronouns would that person want used to refer to themselves?  That is what "my pronouns are..." is about.  Moves towards gender and transgender inclusion bring this issue to the foreground.  

There are resources like this poster from Vanderbilt University , which includes some  alternative pronouns ze/zir/zirs and ze/hir/hirs and advice on how to find out which pronouns a person prefers.    A search for "my pronouns are" from .edu sites brings up a lot more examples.   One, from University of California Davis  points to, which goes into some detail and has "non binary, gender neutral" titles as well.

A search for sites finds a lot of grammar information about pronouns, rather less information about non binary gender neutral pronouns.   There is this from UCL.

But a search for the alternative term "preferred gender pronouns" finds a lot more from UK academic institutions, a lot of it from material about transgender awareness and support.

So, I am Keith and my pronouns are he/him/his, and I am off, linguistics degree (MA Hons 1986) and inclusivity in hand, to find out more.