Translation challenges with Chinese medicine

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Millions of so-called Westerners are interested and use Chinese herbs, medicines and practices like acupuncture and massage. But, with few educational books written in English and even fewer schools of traditional Chinese medicine conducted in English, can we be sure we are all speaking the same language?

New document designed to raise awareness

Given the complexity of the character-driven language in medical texts, there is need for accurate, high-quality translation. Researchers at UCLA’s Center for East-West Medicine have published a document that includes a detailed discussion of the issues involved in Chinese medical translation. It is designed to help students, educators, practitioners, researchers, publishers and translators evaluate and digest Chinese medical texts with greater sensitivity and understanding. “This publication aims to raise awareness among the many stakeholders involved with the translation of Chinese medicine,” explained principal investigator and study author Dr. K-Kit Hui, founder and director of the UCLA center,

A short 15 pages

The short document, “Considerations in the Translation of Chinese Medicine” was written by a team that included a doctor, an anthropologist, a China scholar and a translator. All work at UCLA. They hope the publication will promote communication and play a role in creating more thorough and accurate translations.

Putting it all in context

“Considerations” addresses several important topics regarding the translation of Chinese medical texts. It includes the history of Chinese medical translations, advice about translation-specific issues, technical terminology, period-specific language and style, and historical and cultural perspective. For instance, some translations may be geared toward a Western audience while others may take on a more universal, spiritual tone. For instance “windfire eye” and “acute conjunctivitis” refer to the same condition.

You can find the document online at the Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of Integrative Medicine


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