• Richard J. Brunner Universität Ulm, Ukrainische Freie Universität München
Keywords: medicine, medical terminology, professional language, Greek, Latin, doctor, patient, linguistics, scientific and technical progress, dialog


The language of medicine is the language of medical science, practical medicine, and the language of the patient.
When assessing medical terminology through the prism of its historical origin and time influences, we may see clearly that even today it relies heavily on two classical languages: Greek and Latin. This is because these languages are characterized by clarity of terms and lack of polysemantic shades, which is not true for all other languages.

The main distinctive feature of the language of medicine from other natural sciences is primarily related to the fact that doctors use it not just to communicate with each other, but with patients too. Any dialog between the doctor and the patient goes far beyond the scientific and technical communication aspect. The very conversation often serves as a treatment factor as it influences the spiritual condition of the patient. The principle of the dialog is one of the main concepts of medicine. Such notions as a “person – environment, psyche – soma, health – illness” complement each other and should always be taken into account and viewed as a whole in the process of studying etiology, symptomatology, and the choice of therapy. When talking to the patient, the doctor deals with his or her feelings and thoughts, fears and hopes. It is important for the patient to explain his or her complaints and for the doctor to show understanding, attentively accept the patient and explain the reasons, consequences, and subsequent therapeutic steps in detail. There is a close relationship between the close doctor-patient contact and successful treatment.

However, the medical progress dedicates very little attention to communication between the doctor and the patient. In many countries, medical university students study forms of communication with patients. The question arises: whether students can explain their own knowledge using professional language to someone who is not related to medicine? Are they able to convey the meaning of the medical terminology using a common language? Unfortunately, these questions are often left without answers. However, the reality shows the need to improve the communicative component of tthe doctor’s work.

It is worth specifically emphasizing that, first and foremost, there is a need of appropriate training of students at universities, which would let future doctors to better interpret medical terminology using a common language depending on the specific situation.



Download data is not yet available.


Brunner R. J. 1987. Einführung in die medizinische Terminologie. Universität Ulm

BEVER, Thomas G. The cognitive basis for linguistic structures. Cognition and the development of language, 1970, 279.362: 1-61.

Ders. 1960. „Thinking and speaking.“ In: Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 91, 38-51.

Ders. 1980. Von der Hintergehbarkeit der Sprache. Hrsg. von Elmar Holenstein. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp.

VON ENGELHARDT, Dietrich; SCHIPPERGES, Heinrich. Die inneren verbindungen zwischen philosophie und medizin im 20. jahrhundert. 1980.

HEER, Friedirch. Europäische Geistesgeschichte, Stuttgart (W. Kohlhammer Verlag) 1953. 1953.

Jakobson, Roman. 1963. „Teil und Ganzes in der Sprache. In: D. Lerner (Hrsg.): Parts and Wholes. 157-162. Wieder abgedr. 1971 in: Selected Writings. Bd. II, 280-284. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt von Regine Kuhn.

HYRTL, J. Onomatologia Anatomica (1880). Reprinted, George Olms, Hildesheim, 1970.

MICHLER, Markwart; BENEDUM, Jost. Geschichte und Bildungsprinzipien der medizinischen Fachsprache. In: Einführung in die medizinische Fachsprache. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 1981. p. 1-26.

MURKEN, Axel Hinrich. Lehrbuch der medizinischen Terminologie. Kohlhammer, 1984.

Nomina anatomica. 1989. Edinburgh-New York.

SCHIPPERGES, Heinrich. Die Sprache der Medizin: medizinische Terminologie als Einführung in das ärztliche Denken und Handeln. Verlag f. Medizin Fischer, 1988.

STEUDEL, Johannes. Vesals Reform der anatomischen Nomenklatur. Zeitschrift für Anatomie und Entwicklungsgeschichte, 1943, 112.1: 675-681.

STEUDEL, Johannes. Die Fachsprache der Medizin. Springer-Verlag, 1951.

WINAU, Rolf. Bemerkungen zur „Sprache” der Medizin. Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 1980, 3.1‐2: 95-102.

ZOSKE, Horst. Die Osteologie Vesals. Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der anatomischen Nomenklatur. Hannover, Germany: Schmorl & von Seefeld Nachfolger, 1951.

Abstract views: 218
PDF Downloads: 1871 PDF Downloads: 0
How to Cite
Brunner RJ. THE LANGUAGE OF THE DOCTOR AND THE PATIENT. Proc Shevchenko Sci Soc Med Sci [Internet]. 2018Dec.28 [cited 2023Mar.25];54(2):16-5. Available from: