, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 99–113 | Cite as

Translating medical terminology and bilingual terminography

  • Pam Peters
  • Yan Qian
  • Jun Ding


This paper examines the linguistic challenges in translating English medical terminology into Chinese, finding appropriate translations equivalents for their individual denotations and connotations, and considering also how they take their place in terminological structures such as hyponymy in both languages. In the examples discussed, the Chinese translation equivalents are often more explicit in their reference than their English counterparts, and find alternative ways to explain the term’s meaning. The indeterminacy of some general science terms and within many English medical compounds is resolved in their Chinese translation equivalents, and acronyms are unpacked—albeit in rather lengthy paraphrases. Translations for euphemistic terms are found in more and less explicit paraphrases, from which translators and health professionals can select the most appropriate for the context of communication. Because of the continuous advances in medical terminology, keeping pace with the range of Chinese translation equivalents presents challenges to bilingual terminographers. The need to automate the extraction of bilingual terminology from large corpora is evident, both for the purposes of machine translation, and to build computational ontologies for knowledge abstracting from large medical databases.


Medical terms Bilingual terminography Translation equivalent Hyponymy Indeterminacy Semantics Polysemy Acronyms Euphemism alternative translations 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Fudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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