Developing anatomical terms in an African language.
The use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction at secondary and tertiary level is widely debated. Many students and their teachers translate between English and mother tongue, with varying degrees of success. (2) Students are under pressure to learn to think and explain themselves in English, failure of which is seen as a barrier to accomplishment at the international level. However, students feel they would learn faster if some technical information was available in their mother tongue or some explanations and examples used local sources. Strong evidence supports accelerated learning when mother-tongue language is used alongside the language of learning. (3,4) In addition, exclusive use of a dominant language stunts the growth and elaboration of lower level languages. Using the language in class as a dual language, through secondary and tertiary learning, has been identified as a way of bringing it into high-level contact with concepts in the dominant language, thus accelerating the development of its vocabulary. (5,6)
For these reasons, developing African languages to be able to function at a technical level and to disperse technical information to a lay level,
thereby improving access to knowledge, has become an important area of language advocacy. During the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic many language communities have found themselves struggling to communicate health information to their spokespeople and to overcome terminology considered vulgar and 'embarrassing'. (7)
This paper describes one approach of developing the language using the ChiShona language spoken in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries.
ChiShona is one of eight officially recognised languages in Zimbabwe and represents a cluster of languages spoken by about 80% of Zimbabweans. It is mutually intelligible with related languages in Mozambique. TjiKalanga in Zimbabwe and Botswana is closely related to ChiShona but is considered a separate language. There are more than 12 million first-language ChiShona speakers. It has the status of a national language, together with IsiNdebele. It is widely used in public discussion, on the radio and television, a print newspaper and has a body of literature. In the domain of education it is used as language of instruction in the lower levels of primary education, and is taught as a subject up to tertiary level in several universities in the country. Several Shona-English dictionaries have been published and the first monolingual dictionary was published in 2001. In 2004 a dictionary of ChiShona medical terms was published. (8)
Languages use a variety of methods for acquiring new terms. New words in ChiShona have been assimilated from English, Nguni, Afrikaans and Portuguese over the centuries. Word borrowing is one of the methods used in terminology development, for example use of the word 'wadhi from 'ward'. Other methods include loan translation, semantic extension and compounding (examples in Table 1).
Loan translations and semantic extensions are used extensively as a way of using the language's own resources rather than borrowing. This also generates root words that can be used as compound units in systematic terminology development. As with English it is easier to explain and be understood when the lay terms or the analogies used mean the same as the technical terms, so that as the explanation deepens (through questioning) the message is not lost. There is always a dialogue between lay and technical terminology. Explaining what a facet joint is to a patient with back pain calling it a tsitsopfundo (tsitso--facet and pfundo--joint) is much simpler than attempting to use the borrowed term faseti jointi. As more African terminology is used it will become familiar to the public who have become familiar with English terminology. The English-speaking public has begun to use technical terms as the educational level has increased and more technical information is available in the public domain. An additional benefit when using the language's own resources is that knowledge already embedded in the language is not lost, but becomes available and used in a new way. (9)
This paper focuses on word compounding as a way to demonstrate the language's ability to form new technical terms, using anatomical terms as a model. Table 2 shows how the compound units are derived for use in the terms shown in Table 3, as developed by the author.
Medical dictionaries record the words in current use. Necessarily the lists consist of words that enter the language through all available methods including borrowing, translating, semantic extension, etc. The KiSwahili dictionary, Kamusi ya Tiba, aimed primarily at health professionals, uses English headwords with KiSwahili definitions and explanations. (10) The English-Xhosa Companion is for communication between health professionals and the lay public. Most of the vocabulary is original Xhosa terms, loan translations and semantic extensions with few borrowed words. (11) The ChiShona Duramazwi reUrapi neUtano (Dictionary of Medical and Health Terms) is aimed at Shona-speaking health professionals. It contains headwords in ChiShona with definitions in ChiShona. It is not the function of dictionaries to determine how new words are to be coined or used, although they may legitimise a new word for some time. In the final analysis it is the users or language speakers who determine whether a word will be used and remain in the lexicon.
Many terms can be generated in ways which carry with them some of the meaning of their original source words, similar to the method used with Latin and Greek terms in medical terminology to generate new words, e.g. cardiology = cardi + ology (heart + study of). Compound noun formation is one of several different methods of developing new terminology for language.
Linguists who have led dictionary development in ChiShona and other African languages have emphasised the importance of developing terminology in African languages. Terminology development in science and technology is more difficult because many African scientists may have no formal training in their mother tongue or another African language and language specialists usually have little background in sciences. Thus collaboration between scientists and linguists is essential. Language teaching needs to come back into medical schools, as Latin and Greek were taught in the past in Europe, to raise the level at which African languages are used by first-language speakers so that terminology development in these domains can fully engage with subject expertise. Currently it is used to improve language skills for communication between health professionals from different language groups and patients. 'Dual' language use at tertiary level has been used and explored as a way of ensuring that African languages have a presence at tertiary level in non-language subjects and this has contributed to language development. (12-14) Language develops through being used. African languages development can be promoted further by:
* using them in the tertiary environment as 'dual' language teaching, as with other languages such as Afrikaans in South Africa
* developing space where African language use is promoted in publications and scientific meetings
* increasing the use of African languages in medical education so that African culture may be less 'other' or marginalised.
Developing African languages so that they can be used in all the domains of language use is increasingly seen as urgent. The experience of few languages, such as Swahili and Afrikaans, that have had the political and organisational support to make significant progress, must be extended to others. There are many approaches to terminology development, such as word compounding, that mine the rich source of knowledge already embedded in the African languages. With Bantu languages, compounding can generate an endless vocabulary with similar systematic potential to the use of Latin and Greek in other European languages. Science and technology, including medicine, have tended to lag behind, but if scientists and linguists collaborate in this task, our languages in Africa have great possibilities.
(1.) Mbananga N, Mniki S, Oelefse A, et al. A model for developing medical terms in indigenous languages: a step towards consumer informatics in South Africa. In: Fieschi M, Coiera E, Yu-Chan JL, eds. Proceedings of the 11th World Congress on Medical Informatics. Pt 2. Washington: IOS Press: 2004: 1216-1218.
(2.) Brock-Utne B, Hollmarsdottir H. Language policies and practices in Tanzania and South Africa: problems and challenges. Int J Educ Dev 2004;24:67-83.
(3.) Van Rooyen D, Jordaan H. An aspect of language for academic purposes in secondary education: complex sentence comprehension by learners in an integrated Gauteng school. South African Journal of Education 2009;29:271-287.
(4.) Pluddemann P, Braam D, October M, Wababa Z. Dual-medium and parallel-medium schooling in the Western Cape: from default to design. PRAESA Occasional Paper No17. Cape Town, UCT: 2004.
(5.) Ramani E, Kekana T, Modiba M, Joseph M. Terminology development versus concept development through discourse: insights from a dual-medium BA degree. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2007;25:207-223.
(6.) Obanya P. Learning in, with and from first language. PRAESA Occasional Paper No 19. Cape Town, UCT: 2004.
(7.) Kruger A. Translating public information texts on health issues into languages of limited diffusion in South Africa. In: Valdeon RA, ed. Translating Information. Oviedo: University of Oviedo Press, 2008: 151-168.
(8.) Mpofu N, Chimhundu H, Mangoya E, Chabata E. Duramazwi reUrapi neUtano ALLEX Project University of Zimbabwe and Mambo Press. 2004.
(9.) Dlodlo TS. Science nomenclature in Africa: Physics in Nguni. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 1999;36:321-331.
(10.) Mwita AMA, Mwansoko HJM. Kamusi ya Tiba. Dar es Salaam: Chuo Kikuu cha Dar es Salaam, 2003.
(11.) Kirsch B, Skorge S, Matsikiza N. An English-Xhosa Companion for Health Care Professionals. Cape Town: Juta, 1996.
(12.) Musau PM. Adapting an African language as a medium of instruction at the university: the case of Kiswahili in Kenya. Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 2001;37:127-137.
(13.) Du Plessis T. Perspectives on managing Afrikaans and English as 'equal' languages of learning and teaching at the University of the Free State. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2007;26:315-332.
(14.) Blaauw J. Sourcing and maintaining a pool of suitably skilled interpreters for educational interpreting at a tertiary institution. Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2008;26:301-303.
Dr Farai D Madzimbamuto is senior lecturer in the Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Botswana School of Medicine, Gaborone, Botswana
Table 1. Methods of terminology formation Terminology word Formation method Explanation Example Borrowing A term is borrowed with oparesheni: operation its meaning and dhokoteraldhokota: 'Africanised' doctor Loan translation Form and meaning of the kahuku mhezi (kahuku): word in the source chicken pox [huku-- language is kept but chicken, mhezi--rash] the word is translated ronga mhuri: family using words from the planning [ronga--plan target language (v), mhuri--family (n)] pfundohudyu: hip joint [pfundo--joint, hudyu- -hip] duramazwi: dictionary [dura-- store (n) or explain (v), mazwi--words] Semantic extension The meaning of a word kucheka: to cut [now is modified or extended also means to operate] to accommodate a new kuvhiya: originally meaning or use just meant to cut up an animal. Now also means 'to operate or to dissect'. Compounding Two or more word are mheta [folds] makumbo joined to form one [legs], which describes mhetamakumbo [polio] (v)--verb, (n)--noun Table 2. Vertebral anatomical terms Anatomical structure Descriptors in Shona Compounding units spinal column muzongoza (sing) muzongoza mizongoza (pl) vertebra zongoza (sing) zongozo mazongoza (pl) body tsiga--putting one object tsigo-- on top of another mutumbi mutsigozongoza (the load bearing, 'carrying' part of vertebra) mutumbi--body pedicle bango or mbiru are the bango poles that hold up an arch mbiru or roof mbiru yezongoza arch chingo is arch chingo spinous process tsuvi is spire of building tsuvi lamina nhungo is a roof pole, when nhungo several strapped together form a lattice transverse process chinjiko is 'transverse' or chinjiko 'across' nyanga nyanga is 'horn' tubercle bundulpundu is a swelling bundu pundu foramen buri is an opening buri mwena is a canal mwena guru is a cavern guru sacrum hungunyo (or gungunyo) is hungunyo sacral bone articular facets tsitso is a footing or tsitso where one thing steps on another, and tsitsa is to step on another intervertebral discs hata is a pad or cushion hata such as is interposed between loads notches [vertebral nazho is a notch nazho notches] (anatomical) planes usandara (husandara) means usandara flatness and uchechetere uchechetere (huchechetere) means 'same level' and are used to refer to planes or flatness. These are key terms in anatomical descriptions. anterior mberi means 'forward', mberi kumberi 'towards the front' ventral muhamba means 'the hamba underside of an animal' posterior seri means 'behind', kuseri seri towards the back' superior soro means 'headward', soro kusoro 'towards the head' inferior zasi 'downward' or uswe zasi or uswe tailwards' lateral divi or rutivi means divi sidewards', kudivi 'towards the side medial pakati 'middle', neche mukati mukati towards midline Table 3. Derived compound terms Structure in anatomical english Shona compound units vertebral foramen buri foramen vertebra zongoza transverse foramen buri foramen transverse chinjiko vertebral canal mwena canal zongoza vertebra sacral canal mwena canal guru cavern hungunyo sacral intervertebral canal buri foramen nazho notch superior articular tsitso articular process soro superior inferior articular tsitso articular process zasi inferior transverse articular tsitso articular process chinjiko transverse transverse process nyanga process transverse chinjiko transverse tubercle pundu tubercle chinjika transverse posterior tubercle pundu tubercle anterior tubercle posterior seri anterior mberi spinous process (of tsuvi spire vertebra) (zongoza) (vertebrae) spinous tubercle pundu tubercle tsuvi spire Structure in anatomical english Shona compound term Shona 'back translation' vertebral foramen burizongoza 'opening' in the vertebra transverse foramen burichinjiko or 'opening' in the 'cross' burijinjiko bone vertebral canal mwenamuzongoza 'canal' in the vertebral column sacral canal mwenahungunyo or 'canal' in sacrum or guruhungunyo 'cavern' in sacrum intervertebral canal burirenazho 'opening' of notches superior articular tsitsosoro footing, process upper (superior) inferior articular tsitsozasi footing, process lower (inferior) transverse articular tsitsochinjiko footing, process transverse (cross) bone transverse process chinjiko, jinjiko cross bone nyangachinjiko cross bone projection transverse tubercle punduchinjiko swelling on cross bone posterior tubercle punduseri back swelling anterior tubercle pundumberi front swelling spinous process (of tsuvizongoza spire on vertebra vertebra) spinous tubercle pundutsuvi swelling on spire
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||ISSUES IN MEDICINE|
|Author:||Madzimbamuto, Farai D.|
|Publication:||South African Medical Journal|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2012|
|Previous Article:||Sick certificates issued by South African traditional health practitioners: current legislation, challenges and the way forward.|
|Next Article:||Nazier Khan.|