Back in the day, long before computers became a part of a reporter’s everyday life, whenever I had a tough question, such as a spelling or a word I could not quite decipher from my notes, I would seek the help of my local library reference assistant. This aide had access to medical dictionaries, technical journals, encyclopedias, and a host of other resources that I did not. She saved the day for me on more than one occasion.
Today is a different story, especially for the Millennials, Gen Y, born roughly in the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, and the Centennials, Gen Z, born roughly from the mid-1990s to 2012. Each new generation grows up with even more technology at its fingertips, specifically the Internet and social media; and with such easy access at any time of the day or night, getting instantaneous answers to one’s questions is not only desired but expected.
Court reporters have a constant need for information, and for most reporters Google is their go-to resource. With Google, you really have the world at your fingertips. It’s wonderful: so helpful, convenient, and fast! There is a danger, however, to blindly relying on what you find on Google. Doing a search and choosing the first thing that comes up may give you a false sense of security. You may think that you’ve done your research and found your answer when, in reality, the correct answer is really farther down on Page 2.
So how do you know if the answer you’ve found is the correct one? It comes down to definition and context. For example, your doctor witness says what you hear as “abduct.” You perform a simple Google search and, sure enough, it’s a word! If you fail to dig a little deeper, however, and look into the word’s meaning, you may not realize that the doctor actually said “adduct,” which has the opposite meaning of “abduct.” Huge difference!
- abduct, v.t., to draw away from a position parallel to the median axis. Think of abduction, which means a taking away.
- adduct, v.t., to draw toward a position near or parallel to the median axis.
Chances are the doctor will be using both terms throughout his testimony. These words are extremely difficult to distinguish auditorily under the best of circumstances. If the doctor is a fast speaker or has even the slightest accent, it will be impossible. This means that you will have to choose the right word each time, relying on definition and context to make the correct choice. Imagine the implications if you fail to choose the correct word. Imagine the fallout if you didn’t even know the other word existed! Ouch.
Abduct/adduct is just one example. The medical field is replete with similar illustrations. Consider the following:
- anuresis, n., A condition of inability to urinate. Total lack of urine.
- enuresis, n., bedwetting.
- apophysis, n., a projecting part of a bone.
- epiphysis, n., the end of a long bone,, usually wider than the long portion of the bone, either composed of cartilage or separated from the shaft by a disk of cartilage.
- claustrum – the thin layer of gray matter between the white matter of the external capsule and the extreme capsule of the brain.
- colostrum, n., the thin, milky fluid which is secreted by the mammary glands around the time of parturition.
The lesson here is to Google with care. Do a complete and thorough search before you decide on what to include in your transcript. Just because you find your answer quickly doesn’t mean it is the right one. If you are ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help!
Lastly, here is a useful link you should review from which the above examples were obtained: http://www.meditec.com/resourcestools/medical-words/sound-alike-words/
P.S. Google searches helped to make this blog possible.