Scientific Concepts versus Philosophical Ideas: an Essential Understanding of TCM English Translation


As Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) becomes increasingly popular in the west, English tradition of associated terms and expressions have attracted attention from various fields and different tradition approaches have been formed depending on the categories. Frequently, the translated TCM writings have tried to accommodate as many terms and concepts as possible in Western Medicine (WM), and this has resulted in certain “tradition loss”. By exploring the fundamental differences between WM and TCM, this paper aims to point out a crucial issue: medical terminologies have different connotations in two medical systems – they are scientific concepts in WM and philosophical ideas in TCM, which ought to be the essential understanding and guiding principle in carrying out TCM-English tradition. Scientific concepts are bound to be defined as precisely as possible, whereas philosophical ideas are by their nature vague, profound and only with difficulty converted precisely into another language.


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