Friday, November 4, 2011

Diabeetus (or Wilfred Brimley says what?)

I am alone in the house, standing a room away, running water and rinsing dishes.

Suddenly, a piercing sound cuts through the kitchen noise and I hear one word reverberating through my brain -


Hearing this is like hearing nails on a chalkboard to our family.

Wilfred Brimley, actor and representative for Liberty Medical , a diabetes supply company, is on our television discussing his own personal battle with type 2 diabetes and urging the viewing audience to try a free, non-painful meter courtesy of his paid advertiser.

Listening to this commercial makes all of us at home cringe.

How can someone be a spokesperson for a cause if they can not even pronounce the cause correctly?

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, diabetes, a noun, is pronounced \ˌdī-ə-ˈbē-tēz, -ˈbē-təs\.  If you click on the link to the dictionary, an audio clip of the correct pronunciation is available.

A quick Google search of Mr. Brimley will turn up 100s of  humorous YouTube videos showcasing his incorrect grammar. 

For my viewing audiences pleasure, I chose a rather tame version of Wilfred Brimley's diabeetus.

There are others on Youtube.  Some appropriate and some not.  This is a family blog after all!

What is most bothersome is knowing that millions of people hear that same pronounciation and do not realize that he is saying it incorrectly.  My in-laws continued to say diabeetus even after being repeatedly corrected by their grand-daughters. 

"No, Grandma, it is diabetes - not diabeetus."

Does it sound fancier to say it this way?

"Excusez-moi, mais avez-vous le diabèètus?"

I am pretty sure that this would cause some serious eye-rolling and maybe even a hit on the head with a loaf of bread among anyone in France who has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Stupide Américain Wilfred Brimley!

No need to translate that.

The other part of this commercial that is mystifying is the lack of separation between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  It continues the sterotype that all people with diabetes are old, overweight and a bit stodgy.  This is not the role-model that I want for our children nor the image that I want to present to the rest of the world regarding type 1 diabetes.

Our family does get a chuckle out of the idea that there is a pain free meter waiting for us if only we switch to Liberty Medical.

Is that even possible?  Checking blood sugars 8-10 times a day means that there is a zero possibility of having no pain.  The tattered fingertips speak for themselves.  Ouch!

Eventually someone (perhaps the American Diabetes Association?) did manage to get Mr. Brimley to correctly pronounce diabetes at least once. 

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? 

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