About this textbook

The Anatomy of Medical Terminology: A Formulaic Introduction

by Lewis Stiles and Stephen Russell

(Radix Antiqua Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9952748-9-1)

This book is an attempt to fill a gap in medical education created by three features of contemporary English. The first two have wide application to the whole of the language, while the third feature is more specifically applicable to Medical Terminology.
1)    English is unique among modern languages in suffering a disjunction between its concrete vocabulary, which is largely native, and its abstract vocabulary, which is almost entirely borrowed from Latin and Greek.

2)    The tenuous connection between abstract vocabulary and the concrete words upon which abstract ones are built, though maintained for most of the nine hundred years that the problem has been with us by the universal learning of Latin (at least at the level of education demanded of practitioners of medicine), has been broken in the last one or two generations.

3)    To some degree at least, practitioners of medicine, like specialists in any area, are still more or less conscious of the power which comes from the possession of an arcane vocabulary. 

All three features contribute to the difficulties contemporary native speakers of English have with all of their own language’s abstract and technical words, but they make Medical Terminology, because of its heavy dependence on Latin and Greek, even more difficult to learn than other specialized vocabularies or jargons.
This book is an “anatomy” in the sense that most words used in Medical Terminology can be “cut up” into their component Latin and Greek roots, the most important of which are presented here. It is “formulaic” in the sense that consistent ways of translating compounds made from those roots are given.
It will be most efficiently used in conjunction with a teacher who can discuss etymological and other aspects of the combining forms to make them easier to learn, and who can elucidate difficult points as they arise. Nevertheless, it can also be used for self-study as the exercises have answer keys. Access to a good etymological dictionary of English and to a standard medical dictionary is recommended for those who choose to study this material independently.

Last modified: Saturday, 26 August 2017, 11:26 AM