Saturday, 17 December 2016

Word of the Day - Invisibilised

I was watching the television news last week, and was intrigued to hear Professor Rosalind Croucher, the head of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), use the word invisibilised. The ALRC is conducting an enquiry into elder abuse, and has just issued a discussion paper on the topic, according to the ABC News

Professor Croucher was being interviewed in connection with a news item about aged people being robbed by their children and other loved ones. "People describe powers of attorney as a licence to steal," she said in the interview.

In the course of her comments, Professor Croucher used the term invisibilised, which appears to be a nice verbing of the adjective invisible. 

But it isn't a neologism. It has been used for some years in a clinical context. Heaslip & Ryden, in their book Understanding Vulnerability, include a section on invisibilisation which refers to invisibilising of vulnerable people in care. Like this 

"Ahmed is on a cardiac ward awaiting an angiogram. Each day the hurses/carers come along to make his bed. Ahmed is asked to sit out on the chair beside the bed, whilst the health carers make the bed. They engage in a discussion about their own lives and what they did the night before. At no point is Ahmed invited to join the conversationnor is there any eye contact with him to suggest he might be involved. The health carers complete the bed and move on to the next bed, with a cursory nod to indicate Ahmed can sit back on his bed."

And the French verb, invisibiliser, meaning to render invisible, has been used since the mid-19th century, with much the same meaning. In English, according to the NGRAM, it has been used only since 1980.

So a word with a specialised niche meaning has been given a wider currency. The rapid rate of growth in use seems likely to continue, unless people stop invisibilising old, ill and other vulnerable people. 

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