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Aphasia or aphemia
  1. J M S PEARCE
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, Hull HU10 7BG, UK
  2. jmspearce{at}freenet.co.uk

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    I remember reading the ancient use of the word aphemia instead of aphasia when a young student. Aphemia, I felt was a mellifluent, romantic word and wondered about its origin. Trousseau in his seventh lecture given at the Hôtel-Dieu, Paris, On Aphasia gives an interesting footnote.1

    “The affection which I am about to describe was, in 1841, termed alalia by Professor Lordat*; and in 1861, Mr Broca changed this name for that ofaphemia. But Mr Chrysaphis, a very distinguished Greek scholar, and a Greek himself, although accepting the term alalia, proposed, however, as a better one that of aphasia, derived from a privative and, φαςιξ speech. Mr Littré, whose authority is so great, and Dr Briau have likewise preferred the word aphasia, and all three concur in rejecting aphemia. I had at first adopted the name of aphemia after Mr Broca, but I have now, on the authority of the savants whom I have mentioned, substituted for it that of aphasia.”

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    Footnotes

    • *   Lordat was himself a victim of aphasia; his experience are detailed in Trousseau's chapter.

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