Terminological Analysis of the Corpus of Ancient Greek Medical Writings

  • Nina Čengić
Keywords: linguistics, terminology, Greek texts, medicine


Selected writings of Corpus Hippocraticum, the oldest extant body of medical texts which were written in the period between the 5th and the 4th century BC, were subject of linguistic research based on discourse analysis. From this aspect, Hippocratic texts are treated as representatives of one of the first professional jargons of western civilization. The emphasis is placed on the formal levels of linguistic description in order to establish formal peculiarities of the Hippocratic discourse.

Approach to formal characteristics of Hippocratic discourse stresses some wider contextual elements like interactions between philosophy and medicine, elements of orally established society, spread of literacy, creation of domain of public communication and influence of its rules to different aspects of communication in ancient Greece.

The formal linguistic features of the   Hippocratic discourse are classified into groups of dialect features, terminological differentiation, rhetoric techniques and strategies, structural characteristics, presence of author and audience, syntactical peculiarities and elements of the context.

Terminological differentiation in Hippocratic discourse is a very important level of formal description because it is considered to be one of the hallmarks of a professional discourse. It refers to the existence of a specific subset in the linguistic system which includes specially created technical terms. Hippocratic discourse shows different degrees of technical differentiation. The formalisation of the presence of author and audience is considered to be an essential element of a technical discourse as well. It is considered to be a later element which entered the technical discourse under the influence of sophistic rhetoric and rules of public communication (doctrine of persuasive communication).

Approach to the  dimension of  context includes analysis of all the utterances which  relate to various aspects of wider social context, i.e., those which do not pertain to the technical discourse but are important because they provide information about the circumstances in which  it came to be and  functioned.


How to Cite
Čengić, Nina. 2004. “Terminological Analysis of the Corpus of Ancient Greek Medical Writings”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 6 (1), 51-72. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.6.1.51-72.
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