Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Who says Zika is "mosquito-borne"?

Unfortunately just about every scientist, public health expert and media source.

Problem with referring to Zika as "mosquito-borne" is:

1.  linguistically complex - a highly deleted, passive form-one of the hardest grammar constructions  for people to make sense of, especially if less educated. 
                    A mosquito bears the zika virus.
                    The zika virus is borne by a mosquito.(passive verb)
                    The zika virus is mosquito-borne.(passive and deleted)

2. Once experts use "mosquito-borne" the media picks it up and that's what the public hears (see lesson on Communicating about Ebola  and one on Bandwagon Terms at the Health Literacy Lab ).

Here's what I mean.

Examples of experts' language

NYC DOH Poster

Florida DOH

Then the Media Picks up the Language

Channel 1

-----NBC NY

----CBS NY

The Better, Easier to Read Language about Zika 

Texas DOH 

BTW - Wikipedia doesn't score so high in readability either.