Consider degree of assimilation

Words and phrases that have been full assimilated into the English language do not need any sort of special treatment, although for a while they may retain their original accent marks (especially if they are of French origin).

Foreign words and expressions that have not been assimilated fully (Table 7.4) should be italicized if printed, or underlined if typewritten. This rule is often bent, however. Scientific writing is clearly moving away from the use of italicized words and phrases. Find an example in the journal if you can. Better yet, reword the sentence to use a plainly English equivalent for the word or phrase.

Watch plurals, because their form also depends upon degree of assimilation. Latin words that end in -a are made plural by adding -e. Those that end in -um are made plural by changing the -um to -a. This can be confusing. Many scientists fail to pronounce and spell these words correctly, speaking of "one media" or "a single larvae."

These data are consistent because each datum is independent of the others.

Wasp larvae in general are common, but the larva of Eumenes is not.

A microfilaria is a worm-like creature; heartworm microfilariae sometimes invade a dog's heart.

Exercise 7.3. Scientific names and other foreign words and phrases

A. Indicate how the following scientific names should be handled.

1. the parasitic wasp, m. atrata

2. the dandelion, taraxacum officionale, family compositae, class dicotyledonae

3. the honeybee, apis mellifera var. ligustica

4. the human malarial parasite, plasmodium falciparum Bignami

5. the starfish (asterias) belongs to class asteroidea, phylum echino-dermata, in the section deuterostomia.

B. Indicate correct type use (italics or Roman) and format in the following sentences. Follow the most conservative route.

1. When acceptable, use the formulas already given in the book, Official Methods in Microbiology.

2. For information on the in vivo action of green plant pigments, i.e. chlorophyll, see Arnon's article in Scientific American and Calvin and Bassham's book, The Photosynthesis of Carbon Compounds.

3. Our experiments cannot identify the underlying biophysical alterations, viz., effects within the membrane itself.

4. Reduced oxygen tension provides the best environment for in vitro parasite development, as shown by Udeinya et al (2005).

As foreign words become assimilated, their plural forms give way to English plurals. However, because science tends to be fairly conservative, the acceptability of the English plural forms often differs with the type of publication and its audience. Thus, one journal may pluralize calyx as calyces, while another uses calyxes.

In biomedical writing, certain commonly used Latin phrases cause additional trouble because they most properly follow the noun they modify. These include in vivo (in the living body), in vitro (in an artificial environment), de novo (anew), in vacuo (in the absence of air or in reduced pressure) and in silico (biological simulation studies done with a computer). To place them before the noun, as though they were regular adjectives, is incorrect. Rather than "in vivo tests," say "tests in vivo." However, usage is shifting, and these eventually may be accepted as regular adjectives placed before nouns and without italics.

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