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Where is the Middle East? The Near East? The Far East?

It’s no surprise that many of our place names are relatively new to English. Some (like Far East) were born during British colonization, but “Near East” and “Middle East” are more modern than that.

The word “east” is derived from the Sanskrit word “usās” meaning “dawn” or “morning.” From the perspective of Europe and Asia, this makes sense because the sun rises in the east. Conversely, the word “west” comes from the word for “evening” from the Sanskrit word “avah” meaning “to go down.” These words are all relational and dictate the space around the speaker. Our words for geography reveal where we are.

Language can dictate how we perceive the world around us. Learn about a language that does not have words for “left” and “right” here.

So, what about those three confusing phrases: Far East, Middle East, and Near East?

The simplest of these slippery phrases is the Far East. First recorded in 1616, the phrase “Far East” came into common usage in the 1800s because of British colonial expansion to eastern Asia. The term was used to describe all British colonies east of India. Today, it still refers to China, Japan and other countries on the eastern rim of Asia, but its use has declined steadily in the latter twentieth century.

First used in 1856, the term “Near East” was defined specifically against the Far East and referred to the region in Asia that’s west of India. Today, the region of the Near East is imprecise and overlaps with the Middle East. It typically refers to southwest Asia, particularly Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other nations of the Arabian Peninsula. It is not as commonly used as “Middle East.”

So where is the Middle East? Well, it depends on who you ask. The phrase “Middle East” was first used in 1876 as a synonym for “Mesopotamia,” which literally meant “between rivers” in Ancient Greek, specifically between the Tigris and Euphrates in modern-day Iraq. Over time, it has come to describe the region stretching from Egypt and Sudan in Africa to Turkey in the north to Iran. Oddly, in Asia, what we call the “Middle East” is called “Western Asia.” If you look at a map, that makes sense.

How did the Red Sea, Yellow Sea and Black Sea get their names? Find out here.

What we say about places also shapes what we think about them. The typical English definitions of East do not include Russia, the largest country east of Europe. Similarly, the ways we describe geographic regions are often influenced by political or religious affiliation. These distinctions can contradict each other, though. For example, in early 2011, the political revolutions known collectively as the “Arab Spring” pointed out the contradictions between the “Middle East” and the “Arab World,” which are sometimes used synonymously by journalists but actually refer to different geographies, nations, and cultural groups. Libya, for instance, is not in the Middle East, but it is in the Arab World.

Here’s a more minute example. In New York City, two of the boroughs, Brooklyn and Queens, are actually the western edges of Long Island. However, because they are part of “New York City” in terms of a municipality, it would be absurd to refer to them as “Long Island.”

Oddly, in linguistic terms, the world seems to stop just east of Japan. Even in China, they refer to the United States as the “West.” Though, technically, North America is “east” of China, it is considered part of the cultural West.

(Why is America called America? Learn about it here.)

What do you think about this geographic terminology? Do you use contradictory distinctions?

Deviated septum surgery has high success rate

SouthtownStar (Chicago, IL) April 16, 2012 D ear Doctor K: My husband has a deviated septum. The condition runs in his family, and both his mother and uncle had unsuccessful surgeries to correct theirs. As a result, he refuses to consider surgery. What can be done? in our site deviated septum surgery

Dear Reader: In people with a deviated septum, one nasal passage inside the nose is wider than normal and one is narrower. This alters the pattern of airflow in the nose and sometimes blocks airflow on the narrowed side.

The nasal septum is the wall between the left and right sides of the nose. It is firm but bendable. Ideally, the nasal septum should lie exactly in the center, forming two equal nasal passages. Yet in about 80 percent of us, the nasal septum is a little off-center. Most of us never notice this. Less often, the septum is more dramatically off-center.

A deviated septum can be a very uncomfortable condition. Like your husband, some people are just born with it. Others have a deviated septum caused by injury to the nose during birth or later in life. A blow to one side of the head can knock the nasal septum out of position.

Symptoms of a deviated septum can include:

Blockage of one or both nostrils;

Nasal congestion, sometimes on one side;

Frequent nosebleeds;

Frequent sinus infections;

Facial pain, headaches, postnasal drip;

Noisy breathing during sleep in infants and young children;

Sleep interrupted by difficulty breathing, including an inability to sleep on one side (because sleeping on that side blocks breathing).

The first step for your husband would be to speak with an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) or plastic surgeon about treatment options.

Initial treatment usually involves medicines. Steroid nasal sprays may reduce nasal allergies. Such allergies can cause tissues in the nose to swell, which further narrows the nasal passage on the side of the deviated septum. Some people use over-the-counter nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline. These can open up nasal passages for a few days, but if these sprays are used more than that, they can cause the nasal passages to close down again. go to site deviated septum surgery

Sometimes surgery ?ˆ” called a septoplasty ?ˆ” is needed. In this procedure, the surgeon moves the septum to a normal position. In some cases, the surgeon also will reshape the external appearance of the nose in a procedure called rhinoplasty.

When the two procedures are done at the same time, the surgery is called a septorhinoplasty.

Success rates for septoplasty are actually quite high, from the research I?ˆ™ve read ?ˆ” greater than 80 percent. Perhaps your husband?ˆ™s mother and uncle were just unlucky. I?ˆ™d say it?ˆ™s worth it for your husband to try the surgery if he?ˆ™s uncomfortable enough to take action. And maybe you?ˆ™ll sleep better, too. Look for an ear, nose and throat surgeon who has done a large number of septoplasty operations in his or her career, and in the past couple of years, in particular. Practice does make perfect.

Write to Dr. Komaroff at www.AskDoctorK.com

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