I saw some news recently about the Japan Association for Diabetes Education and Care making the decision to rename 糖尿病 (tōnyōbyō, diabetes). In its place, the association chose something more globally recognizable: ダイアベティス (daiabetisu, diabetes).

While opting for a katakana spelling of the English word isn’t the most creative choice, the reasons for wanting to abandon the old term make sense: Not all diabetics have 糖 (, sugar) in their 尿 (nyō, urine), and some patients find the association with 尿 to be unpleasant and worry about being stigmatized as 不潔 (fuketsu, dirty).

English-speakers learning Japanese may find the new name easy to remember. For Japanese speakers, on the other hand, saying ダイアベティス instead of 糖尿病 will take some getting used to — the diabetes association is planning to raise awareness of the new name over the course of a year or so.