Sometimes I wonder where these differences in medical pronunciation come from. I’ve heard all the high-brow explanations (We say “sontimeter” instead of “centimeter” because “centimeter” sounds too much like “millimeter”) but I don’t buy any of them. (Since when does “centimeter” sound like “millimeter”? What accent would you have to be using for that to be even remotely true?)
So I apologize for being incredibly cynical, but it seems to me like someone along the way just mispronounced something while in a position of power.
Famous Surgeon: Looks like this guy has some cardiac dilatation.
Resident: … Sorry, what?
Famous Surgeon: Dilatation, you fool.
Resident: Oh, haha, you mean “dilation“!
Famous Surgeon: *Slow Death Stare*
Resident: …. OH. Yes. Er, “Dilatation.” You’re right as always, sir.
And then everyone else had to follow suit because they were scared. And incoming residents and medical students and nurses at this hospital were laughed at for pronouncing it “dilation” until they gave in as well, and then “dilatation” became a regional thing, and now it’s widely accepted.
The only alternative explanation I’ve heard for this one seems to be that Americans arbitrarily shortened the British “dilatation” to “dilation”. But as far as I’m concerned, since Metropolis is in America, that should make me right and the “dilatation” people wrong, unless they’re British, which so far, they aren’t. (Yeah, ok, I’m biased beyond belief here. “Dilation” is a word to me, “dilatation” makes me think of a “dilletante“, which is a word that always makes me laugh. And cardiac dilatation is not supposed to be funny.)
And then there’s duodenum. “doo-wah-duh-num” versus “doo-oh-dee-num” is such a painful battle. I’ve always heard the 1st pronunciation – but here we had 1 professor who used the 2nd (DAMN HIM) and now everybody thinks the 2nd one is right, so I’m the only 1st year who says “doo-wah-duh-num”, which makes me look like an idiot.
But I will stand my ground on this one, damnit. You’ve gotta have standards.*