Another example of international connection

One of the beautiful things about the world that economically-minded people enjoy more than others is seeing how people are connected, again and again through time and space, by trade. Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil” is a great example. There are many motives to go out and see who and what else is there in the world, but trade is one of the most reliable. Despite the multitude of different cultures, languages, religions, etc., people are and have long been connected in important ways that we don’t often think about.

While not quite as optimistic an example, I thought the following passage demonstrates that connectedness from another angle. For context, the chapter begins with a discussion about the evidence for the theory that syphilis was a disease of New World origin.

Even if no direct statements on the newness of syphilis to the inhabitants of the Old World existed, there is enough linguistic evidence to support that contention. The variety of names given it and the fact that they almost always indicate that it was thought of as a foreign import are strong evidence for its newness. Italians called in the French disease, which proved to be the most popular title; the French called it the disease of Naples; the English called it the French disease, the Bordeaux disease, or the Spanish disease; Poles called it the German disease; Russians called it the Polish disease; and so on. Middle Easterners called it the European pustules; Indians called it the disease of the Franks (western Europeans). Chinese called it the ulcer of Canton, that port being their chief point of contact with the west. The Japanese called it Tang sore, Tang referring to China; or, more to the point, the disease of the Portuguese. A full list of the early names for syphilis covers several pages, and it was not until the nineteenth century that Girolamo Fracastoro’s word, “syphilis,” minted in the 1520s, became standard throughout the world. – from Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., The Columbian Exchange, 1973, pp. 124-125


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