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Which is correct and why?
The patient does not want to go through/ undergo intrusive examinations.
You go through something means either (1) that you are actually, physically, moving through it, or (2) that you are experiencing it.
In that sense "to go through an intrusive examination" is an acceptable phrase.
If you say "undergo", however, you are adding one more layer of meaning: you are passive and others are doing something to you. "To suffer" means that you are bearing even more pain.
The patient is one who is passive (the two words come from the same Latin root) and suffers illness and medical procedures. Here again the Latin etymology helps: suffer = "sub" + "ferre"; "sub" means under, "ferre" to bear as in to carry. In other words, to suffer literally means to undergo (with pain).
Therefore the sentence "the patient does not want to undergo intrusive examinations" is exactly correct, a wonderful example of careful diction.
Last edited by abaka; 12-Nov-2010 at 17:36.
"PRETENTIOUS DICTION. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements." -- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language". Do you really think Orwell had only speech in mind?
1. Granted that there may be deeper meanings if both participants in a dialogue are more interested in playing with academic knowledge than in communicating normally, this has little relevance to most learners; they simply want to use the language as most reasonably educated native speakers do.
2. If people such as you and I get involved in exploring the 'deeper meaning' of expressions, then threads become not only irrelevant for most learners, but positively confusing.
There may be an argument for persuading the administrators to set up a separate forum for us to toss back and forth the linguistic equivalents of the exact number of angels (seraphim, cherubim, dominions, thrones, etc) who may perch on a pinhead. I don't think there is any argument in favour of us doing it in Ask a Teacher.
Then I overheard two of my students discussing a problem. One of them said, "Ask X. He doesn't know as much as fivejedjon, but at least we'll get an answer that is helpful rather than confusing - in less than the 15 minutes 5jj normally takes".
Thank you both for your interesting and satisfactory answers. I'm aware of the fact that language is not mathematics and anyone is entitled to have his or her own preference. I've learned from your fascinating discussion not less than your answers to my specific question!