Submitted by Robert Felt on January 17, 2007 - 1:54pm.

Specific Critiques of Practical Dictionary Terms

Three papers relate to Dr. Xie Zhufan's criticisms of Wiseman's term choices. Dr. Xie Zhufan is a professor and a primary Chinese exponent of eliminating the "folklore" from T.C.M. He is a participant in the W.H.O. term standardization process. His Classified Dictionary of Traditional Chinese Medicine is available in English. Xie Zhufan's paper is here translated with annotations by Herman Oving: Comments on Nigel Wiseman's A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine. Oving's notes are critical for non-Chinese speakers because of certain misunderstandings in Xie's text. Dr. Wiseman's response is found here: Comments on English Translation of Common Terms in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was translated into slightly "ropy" English by the W.H.O. Dr. Wiseman's original Chinese version is: 對於《中醫藥常用名詞術語英譯》的一些意見 .

In addition to Xie Zhufan, the Journal of Chinese Medicine (UK) has been a consistent critic of source-oriented translation. Following are responses to criticisms of terms and methods that have been published in that journal. The first paper demonstrates the loss of diagnostic and therapeutic information via the simplification of terms: The Tyranny of Familiar Words. Although several years old it responds directly to some of the criticisms offered at the A.A.O.M. Conference of October, 2006. The "Response to Buck and Maciocia" is Nigel Wiseman's reply to those authors' assertions regarding terms and translation as published in the JCM: Response to Buck and Maciocia

In October of 2006 the A.A.O.M. sponsored a conference on Chinese medical nomenclature. This was an excellent idea and I compliment the A.A.O.M., particularly Will Morris and Miki Shima who organized the panel discussion. Two of the papers presented critical assessments of the Practical Dictionary terminology. Yet, both Toward a Working Methodology for Translating Chinese Medicine by Dan Benksy, Jason Blalack, Charles Chace and Craig Mitchell and Asian Medical Term Debate by Jake Fratkin contained significant misrepresentations of the Practical Dictionary terminology and Wiseman's work in general. (You will find these papers, and the piece by Miki Shima mentioned earlier, by scrolling though the "binder" pdf file these references link to.) As you read "Toward a Working Methodology" note the drum-beat of "must understand Chinese medicine" and ask yourself why a paper on methodology ignores the project team approach by which virtually all complex medical and academic undertakings are organized. Failing to recognize the contribution of Feng Ye, (The Practical Dictionary co-author who needs to take a back seat to none in terms of education, experience or understanding), and ignoring the value of team are huge omissions.

Eric Brand's notes on the A.A.O.M. conference contain a precis of the problems with Fratkin's paper, found here: Notes on the AAOM Terminology Conference . The criticisms of Fratkin's paper are detailed and found at the end of the article. Eric is clearly concerned about being overly critical but it is important to recognize that poorly-prepared critique can be unfairly damaging.

Nigel Wiseman's explanation of the errors in Bensky, et. al. is found here: Translation of Chinese Medical Terms: Bensky and Colleagues' Falsification of the Issues.

One of the consistent trends among critics of source-oriented translation is misattribution of terms. You can see this in both Xie and Fratkin's papers where terms Wiseman does not use are attributed to him. You can also see this in Bensky, et. al.'s assertion that their glossary is more flexible and context sensitive, a claim the statistics deny.