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May 13, 1968

On Seeing Clearly

JAMA. 1968;204(7):635-636. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140200075034

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To the Editor:—  Like Alexander Gode, PhD, I pride myself that I know 2 1/2 languages beside English (203:544, 1968). One of these is Mandarin Chinese, and in that language to "see" the physician and to "see" the patient is everyday colloquial usage. The word used is pronounced "kan," and is the common word for the verb "to see." The patient goes to the clinic to "kan ee-shung" (see doctor), and the doctor proceeds to "kan bingren" (see patient). But here the Chinese language takes a great leap forward. The physician's whole activity with and for his patient is referred to as "kan-bing"—to "see disease." A clairvoyant profession indeed!