Friday, July 3, 2009

Murder must wait

The editing function does not shut off easily.

Cruising through yesterday’s front-porch reading, Susan Hill’s The Pure in Heart, I stopped short at a reference to a doctor who was to fill in for another doctor about to give birth as a “temporary locum.”

British writers and readers are more enamored of Latinisms than American, and locum tenens, familiarly shortened to locum, is one that crops up regularly. A locum tenens locum, place; tenens, holding — is most commonly a priest or physician who is holding another’s place, filling in, substituting. So being a locum is inherently a short-term arrangement; “temporary locum” is redundant.

And now, back to our story.


  1. "An unfortunate side effect of editing is that you'll find it difficult to simply _read_ ever again." -- Judith A. Tarutz


  2. Perhaps a temporary locum is only filling in for a day or so? My notion of a locum is that it's usually for a fairly extended period of time? But then, I'm not British, just a reader of British mysteries...

  3. I ran across that term in a "Dr. Thorndyke" mystery on my Kindle--and looked it up using the built-in dictionary! Way cool, and now I feel EXTRA smart, because I actually used that info again.

    I was going to say I'd blogged about it, but I realized it's in the comments.
    Tuesday, May 19, 2009
    Dictionary Diving (Or, Words I've Had to Look Up Lately)

  4. Patricia the TerseJuly 11, 2009 at 2:39 AM

    I edit as I read all the time: most distressing. P.D.James, splendid though she is, insists on using "orientated" instead of "oriented." I doubt Adam Dalgleish worries about turning towards the east,especially when the body is in the opposite direction..