Standard terminologies on traditional medicine: Syndrome Differentiation According to Eight Principles


Comparative study on WHO Western Pacific Region and World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies international standard terminologies on traditional medicine: Syndrome Differentiation According to Eight Principles

by Zhao-guo LI


  College of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China, Secretariat of Specialty Committee of Translation. World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies. Shanghai 200234. China

The so-called eight principles include:陰、陽、表、裡、寒、熱、虛、實, which are usually transliterated and translated as yin. yang. exterior. interior. cold. heat. deficiency and excess. These eight principles serve as a theoretical basis for treatment based on syndrome differentiation. T hese eight principles are easy to understand. translate and standardize.  However, the translation of 辨証is somewhat different in the translation field. Some translators have rendered it as syndrome differentiation, and some others have translated it as pattern identification.  In WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region1 (abbreviated as WPRO Standard) and International Standard Chinese-English Basic Nomenclature of Chinese Medicine compiled by World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies2 (abbreviated as WFCMS Standard), both ways of translation are maintained. However, in WPRO Standard, pattern identification is the first choice and syndrome differentiation is the second; in WFCMS Standard, the opposite is the case.  In WPRO Standard, 76 terms concerning syndrome differentiation with the eight principles are included.  In WFCMS Standard, altogether 437 related terms are included.  This article tries to make a comparative study between these two international standards according to the studies made in the book entitled International Standardization of English Translation of Traditional Chinese Medicine: Study of Theory, Summarization of Practice and Exploration of Methodsl3  


陰陽辯証yin-yang pattern identification/syndrome differentiation: categorization of patterns/ syndromes according to yin-yang theory, e. g. interior, cold, and deficiency patterns/syndromes pertaining to yin, and exterior, heat, and excess patterns/syndromes pertaining to yang.


, a basic concept in traditional Chinese medicine(TCM) , refers to the progress of a disease at a certain phase, significantly reflecting the cause, nature, location, manifestation and prognosis of the disease.  So one single disease may demonstrate different iJE at different stages. That is why different diseases may demonstrate the same syndrome and the same disease may demonstrate different syndromes. Though the Chinese character is often translated as syndrome or pattern, actually both ways of translation are not quite accurate. Since the English words syndrome and pattern are traditionally used to translate , they are often taken as two equivalences of . However, when we use these English words to translate this special Chinese character, we have to bear in mind that they are actually quite semantically different.



Keywords: linguistics; terminology; translation; English; terms, traditional Chinese medicine; diagnosis  

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This article is an Open Access article published in Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, April 2010, Vol. 8, No.1.

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