Oct. 14, 2001
Regarding Gord Wood's letter (below) about the International Animal Health Code at the Office International des Epizooties (OIE):
Although I guess it's en Francais, what the heck does "Epizooties" mean?
If it's pronounced how it looks, it sounds like a delightful word!
Also, if the name of the organization is World Organization for Animal
Health, doesn't that make the acronym "WOAH"? Sounds appropriate for
horses, at least.
Love your site!
Rob N. Riley
Slocan Valley, B.C.
Epizootic refers to animal diseases that are not normally present in a given population but which can become temporarily widespread. Enzootic, on the other hand, describes diseases that regularly affect animals in a specific part of the world.
Epizootic originally comes from Greek, and literally means parasites that live "on" (epi) "animals" (zoion). And, yes, "epizooties" probably makes many word buffs stop and go "woah."
June 1, 2001
I have just finished reading your essay entitled Foot or Hoof: A Sole Choice?.
I am curious why you left out any reference to the World Organization for Animal Health in your essay. The OIE's (Office International des Epizooties www.oie.int) International Animal Health Code, which provides standards for international trade in animals and animal products, lists the disease as "Foot and Mouth Disease."
Canada, the U.S.A., the United Kingdom and 154 other member countries report to this organization and therefore use the same terminology.
Contrary to your conclusion, I would argue that this provides a clear consensus on what to call this disease.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Editor's Note: The OIE, based in Paris, uses three official languages on its Web site. Every document is presented in English, French, and Spanish. The OIE's French and Spanish terms for the disease are fièvre aphteuse, and fiebre aftosa which, as pointed out in our essay, have nothing whatsoever to do with the word "foot."
It may turn out that English translations of some other countries' expressions are also misleading. In German, for instance, "Maul-und-Klauenseuche" can be interpreted as either "jaws, muzzle or snout" and "claw, paw or hoof," according to William Safire of the New York Times.
The fact that many people (including ranchers who've e-mailed us) wonder why two terms exist to describe the same disease suggests a lack of consensus. This does not mean that a large number of animal scientists or journalists have not picked a preference. It simply underlines the fact that language belongs to all of us, not just to one or two groups.
A quick search of the Web shows that the expression "hoof-and-mouth" disease is very much alive and well in no immediate danger of being replaced by "foot" just because some news organizations or government agencies think it should be.
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