a rose by any other name…

Words matter – in this case, the name of the new corona virus that is causing a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. As well as xenophobia against Asian-Americans. The California state government is trying to get ahead of that (given the huge Asian-American population here), and my wife (who happens to be from Hong Kong) even got a letter from her Dean at Calarts discussing the issue.

But I digress – this is about naming the virus. It does play into some of the above issues, as it turns out that what you call a virus has implications and repercussions far beyond the people in lab coats trying to battle the bug. This Vox article lays out some of the challenges involved in just trying to come up with a name for the new virus. This isn’t about marketing – it is about trying to have relevant information without implying geographical or ethnic bias.

But no name is perfect. The new moniker – Covid-19 – has led to a company that happens to be called Covid (they make audio visual equipment) being bombarded with phone calls. While inconvenient for them, certainly better than some previous diseases where the name led to marginalization (AIDS was originally GRID – Gay-Related ImmunoDeficiency) or slaughter (swine flu). The WHO actually has guidelines for naming new diseases. Because it turns out that words matter…

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