Most educated Igbo go through their entiresecondary and tertiary education, including masters and doctoratedegrees,andeven medical programmes using only English medical terminology. A serious attempt has not been made tofind Igbo words ...
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Author: Uchenna Nwosu, MD, FACOG
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Medical exploitation often occurs because a patient does not understand the nature of his or her illness. Consequently the patient falls prey to simple explanations, like nails in the body causing pain or obstructing the normal progress of labor and delivery. The aim of this book is to improve doctor-patient communication in Igbo language by establishing an Igbo medical vocabulary, which both the doctor and patient can understand and speak. Ancillary objectives include the following: • Assignment of names to some organ systems of the body that are currently unnamed in Igbo language, and explanation of their functions; • Assignment of names to disease-causing agents such as virus and bacteria, which are not visible with the naked eye; • Introduction of the concept of chronic disease such as hypertension and diabetes, which can only be controlled but not usually curable; • Introduction of modern cell biology in Igbo language. We have met many challenges in writing this book. First, we found that the Igbo language is rich in naming external parts of the body, but lacks words for some internal organs and organ systems, such as the endocrine organs, the retculoendothelial system, the vascular system, the lymphatic system, etc. It even lacks the concept of cells and tissues, so that organs are only understood as they appear to the naked eyes. Second, we noted that some organ systems are lumped together in Igbo language, even though each system has its distinct group of diseases. For instance there are no words to differentiate string-like structures in the body. Thus nerves, arteries, veins, tendons, ligaments, lymphatic vessels and even fascia are collectively known as akwara. Our charge was to name these parts individually in Igbo. Third, disease causing agents not visible with the naked eyes, such as bacteria and viruses are not known in Igbo language, and needed newly minted words. Perhaps the most difficult challenge we faced is the fact that Igbo language lacks the flexibility of the English language, which borrows its medical terms very liberally from Greek and Latin roots, to create words that did not exist in the language. For instance the word atherosclerosis is derived from the Greek root, athere, meaning gruel or dirt, and skiros, meaning hard. Since Igbo language lacks such close interaction with other languages, English-to-Igbo interpretation of medical terms becomes necessarily descriptive and long. Where we have interpreted a medical term with more than one Igbo word we have tried to preserve the essence of the term. For instance we have named atherosclerosis Atịtị ọwa ọbara, meaning dirt in the blood channel. We have emphasized the concept of chronic disease in contrast with the well understood model of acute illnesses. In this regard we have highlighted hypertension (Obara Mgbanni Elu) stroke (Ọtụọ ọkara), diabetes (Ọrịa shuga), heart attack (Ọkụkụ mkpụrụobi) and heart failure (Okuko afọ mkpụrụobi). This is particularly important because chronic diseases require lifetime treatment, unlike the familiar model of acute diseases, such as malaria (Ịba anwụ nta) or appendicitis (Amahịa mgbakwunye eriri afọ) that requires only brief or intermittent treatment. Since Igbo culture is technologically challenged, we have difficulty coming up with a language that reflects the technology of modern medicine, such as x-ray, ultrasound, centrifuge, CAT scan etc. We have not addressed medical technology in any detail in this issue. In introducing the fundamentals of modern concept of cell biology and genetics in Igbo language we have made it possible for secondary and post secondary school students to understand the structure and functions of the cell organelles the way they never did before. It is a significant departure: from memorization of just words, to explanation of th