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Swiss Med Wkly. 2002 Nov 23;132(41-42):581-7.

Latin as the language of medical terminology: some remarks on its role and prospects.

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Department of Languages, Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.


The present paper offers an up-to-date view of the status of Latin as the language of medicine, namely in its terminological component. It is concerned in greater detail with the three basic terminological vocabularies in which a doctor cannot so far manage without its knowledge. In this sense a primary rank is occupied by anatomical nomenclature whose international version remains Latin in the full extent. A more varied picture is presented by the clinical disciplines where, apart from Latin terms, expressions of ancient provenance have been applied in a large measure in the form of ethnic languages. At the same time, particularly in view of the needs of computerisation, repeated attempts have appeared to support English, which has the greatest chance of becoming a new language in the particular region of clinical medicine. In pharmaceutical terminology Latin has, for the time being, remained a functioning means of international communication, guaranteed by the European Pharmacopoeia (1996) and by the corpus of International Non-proprietary Names (1992, 1996), even though in the future an ever stronger competition of national languages should be taken into account.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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