Sunday, March 2, 2008

Medical Linguistics, Part 3

In yesterday's blog, I wrote that medical terms are composed of doublets, each of which convey a very specific meaning. Individual words seldom have a single meaning.

Most terms in a medical nomenclature are composed of doublets found elsewhere in the terminology. In other words, unique terms are composed of common doublets, with very few exceptions.

The Neoplasm Classification contains over 130,000 names of neoplasms. Among these large numbers of terms, there are about 1,500 terms that contain a doublet that is uniquely found in the term (i.e., not found in one or more additional terms in the nomenclature). This represents about 1% of the total number of terms in the nomenclature. (The entire Neoplasms Classification is available as a gzipped file from my web site.

The Perl script that produces the list of terms that cannot be constructed from doublets found in other terms, is discussed in a later blog.

- Jules Berman

key words: doublet method, neoplasm classification, nomenclature,

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