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Vocabulary in Traditional Chinese Medicine : Insights from corpora

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This article reports on a corpus-based study of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) vocabulary. It first provides a vocabulary profile of English-medium Traditional Chinese Medicine textbooks and journal articles using Nation’s (2012) British National Corpus/Corpus of Contemporary American English (BNC/COCA 25,000) frequency word lists and supplementary word lists of proper nouns, abbreviations, and compounds. Then, it categorizes items outside Nation’s BNC/COCA into Chinese loan words (e.g., qi, yang) and medical lexis (e.g., cinnamomi, rehmanniae), which cover 5.93% of the TCM Corpora in total. The next analysis focuses on Schmitt and Schmitt’s (2014) high, mid, low-frequency vocabulary framework and how it differs from Western medicine. Finally, a vocabulary load analysis shows that to reach 98%, 13,000 word families plus four supplementary lists and two TCM-specific lists are needed. Together, these analyses provide us with a rounded picture of TCM vocabulary. Implications for pedagogy and suggestions for future research follow.

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Keywords: English for Chinese medical purposes; lexical profile; loan words; technical vocabulary; vocabulary loads

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 2, 2020

This article was made available online on April 2, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Vocabulary in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Insights from corpora".

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