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January 1963

The Language of Medicine

Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(1):128-129. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620250132033

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A good many industrious people have calculated the frequency with which common and rare words appear in the Bible, Shakespeare, the common speech of the common man, and in the published writings of many authors. Up to now no one had studied medical vocabulary in the same systematic way. But this deficiency has been corrected by Dr. Bridge. More than 10 years ago he set out to study the language of medicine. In a general but vague way everybody knows that the medical vocabulary is extensive, and that many of the words are horrible. Students without a background of a foreign language, particularly Latin and Greek which may serve as a helpful connecting link, are likely to flounder about. A few abdicate in terror. The vocabulary needed for reading a college course of French and German rarely contains more than 2,000 words, but in his first year of medicine a

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