Some time last year, I met up with a couple of close friends and updated them on my mother’s condition. During the conversation, I started to say, “now that my mother is demented…” and I stopped. It just sounded wrong.
My friend, D, who so happens to have a Masters in English Language and Literature, chided me. “No you can’t say she is demented. She has dementia, and it is not the same thing.”
Well, this year I started blogging, and realised that demented is often used to describe someone with dementia. To lay the matter to rest, I decided to consult fellow blogger Dotty Headbanger, who is not only fluent and quick-witted, she is also from the United Kingdom, where the Queen’s English is spake. And in Singapore and Malaysia, which were once upon a time colonies of the British Empire where the sun never set, the Queen’s language still counts for something. (But we are gradually becoming Americanised.. don’t tell Dotty).
Here reproduced in full is Dotty’s answer:
Don’t get me started on political correctness, I’ll pop my mental, nutty, loony head.
Dementia = demented
Mental illness = mental
in the same way that arthritis = arthritic or diabetes = diabetic or amputated = amputee.
What isn’t okay is to use derogatory terms to describe someone, but
USING A TERM THAT RELATES TO AND ACCURATELY DESCRIBES WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE PERSON IS NOT POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS, IT’S COMMON FUCKING SENSE.
Sorry, the world’s gone daft.
Love Dotty xxx
Thank you for clearing that up, Dotty!
Now in case you are wondering why Dementors is in the title – I just thought it made a nice set. Maybe JK Rowling coined the term to suggest demons, and torment. Their presence induced paralysing fear and catatonia, but not the slow creeping dementia as we know it.