Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Doctor! Quick, give me some Number Four!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

An enterprising NTU medical student has decided that his medical Taiwanese was so lacking that he has put together a book to help himself and others like him talk to patients in the language.

A Formosa Television piece on Chu Chú-hông highlights the difference between medical vocabulary in Mandarin and Taiwanese:

醫用台語,很多不能直接翻譯,除了氧氣是酸素之外,海洛因叫做四號仔,疝氣呢,要用形容的就是墜腸,而電腦斷層,就形容儀器的模樣,鑽山洞。

The examples given include “oxygen”, which many Taiwanese know as sng-sò͘ (which is a loan word from Japanese) rather than ióng-khì, which is a direct transliteration of the Mandarin yǎng-qì (氧氣). The article also mentions “heroin”, which in Mandarin is a sound-loan from English (hǎiluòyīn), and states that the Taiwanese is sì-hō-á, literally Number Four Stuff. However, my dictionary has sì-hō-á as “amphetamine”, not “heroin” (which it gives as either hái-lo̍k-eng or hái-lo̍k-in, loaned from English, as the Mandarin is). I’ve no idea who is correct, but I’m inclined to trust the dictionary first.

The article also mentions Chu’s handbook as “the first in Taiwan”, whereas in fact medical manuals in Taiwanese romanization can be found dating back to the Japanese era.