Novoyaz. How to poison a language?

Novoyaz is a mutilated version of Russian language that was imposed by the communists in the 1920s. This was done to bring the political agenda to the masses. As a result, many new words with very vague meaning had been infested into the language. Even the name of the country, the USSR, was for the most part a non-sensical abracadabra.

I can’t help feeling that this has contributed to the fact that Russian language is barely functional these days. Interestingly, almost all significant Russian writers of the 20th century at some point of their careers switched to other languages (mostly English): Vladimir Nabokov, Ayn Rand, Joseph Brodsky, etc. Moreover, if you go out to the streets of Moscow today, you most likely won’t hear people speaking Russian. It would be either a language of some former Soviet republic or a word salad consisted of some Soviet cliches, bureaucratic jargon and swearing.

As you may have already guessed, I think this has some parallels with orthodontics. Recently, I compared orthodontics with a language of its own and orthodontic marketing tools with a political propaganda machine. Certainly, you all have heard snappy phrases as “arch development”, “airway-friendly orthodontics”, “face-focused”, etc. These all do not mean a thing. However, they are used – sometimes pretty effectively – to gain attention. On one hand, this leads to the financial benefits for some individuals. On the other hand, this gradually washes out meaning from our specialty. As a result, it is getting harder and harder to communicate with patients and dentists who are falling victims for these verbal gimmicks.

I think we as specialists should protect our boundaries. We have to question those who use misleading language. In turn we have to use clear and precise language ourselves. Here is the Orthodontic Glossary developed by the AAO in 2012. I think this is a great reference to adhere to for all orthodontists around the globe. We should also share it with other dentists who work closely with us.

Without a language people parish. 

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