Post by John Varela
On Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:24:37 UTC, Bernard Lynch
Post by Bernard Lynch
As I'm writing an article for a medical journal on the effects that a
woman named Betty Smith reported after she had taken a new drug, I was
debating whether to say that "a woman named Betty Smith reported . .
." or to simply say that "Betty Smith reported . . ."
In fact, that question even arose when I was writing the first clause
in the foregoing paragraph, because using a "woman named Betty Smith
reported" seemed much better than just using "Betty Smith reported."
I was therefore wondering whether the writers and editors here agreed
or disagreed with me on this.
Thanks very much for your opinions.
Why is it necessary to give her name at all?
At the first appearance of Betty Smith in the article, the use of a simple
"Betty Smith" would imply that the reader ought to already know who that
person is. The use of the slightly longer "woman named Betty Smith" tells
the reader the name, but reassures him that he was not expected to already
know anything about Betty Smith. The article is dealing with a person who,
up to this point, has not been well-known to the expected readership. To
convey this idea, the longer phrase "woman named Betty Smith" is the better
Why is it necessary to give her name at all? Having informed the reader of
the name, you can subsequently use "Ms Smith" every time you need to
describe her further adventures. This simplification of the subsequent
writing explains why we often need to name our "Betty Smith". We can omit
her name altogether, describing her (for example) as "a woman from local
area", only if we don't want to refer to her again in the rest of the
In an article in a medical journal, to protect her medical confidentiality,
we might explain/admit that we are using an alias, describing her in the
first place as "a woman named Mary Jones", and in subsequent parts of the
article refer to her simply as "Ms Jones".
Richard Chambers Leeds UK.
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