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I was a relative newcomer to the US. As a Catholic priest, I was hearing confessions.

A man came in and explained he came to me rather than the other priests because he had Mennel Disease, so I would understand his situation better.

Well, I know that new diseases are being discovered regularly and typically named after the doctor who first describes them.

Alas, I'm thinking, I never heard of Dr. Mennel.

"I'm not familiar with that one," I apologized.

"Really?" he said. "It's pretty common."

"It must be something new," I said.

"No, it has been around!" he insisted, incredulous. Then he exclaimed, quite disappointed: "I thought you were a psychologist!"

Suddenly it dawned on me. He was not talking Dr. Mennel. He was talking American English.

"Oh, you mean mental disease?! Yes, I know about that!"

That was quite embarassing. I had heard Americans assimilating the nt into nn before, plus it is a fairly common phenomenon in the evolution of languages (e.g. Sanskrit dharma compared to Pali dhamma; or Latin doctor became Italian dottore).

But he got me on this one! I was glad when he came back the next time. I was worried I might have lost all credibility in his eyes. Luckily, I did not. Whew!

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