Neoclassical internationalisms in scientific and popular terminology: a case study on Romance and Germanic languages

Autores UPV
Revista ESP World


The paper reports on a comparative study of equivalence in scientific and popular terminology across Romance and Germanic languages. The study is carried out within the framework of Languages for Specific Purposes lexicography, and focuses on a corpus of medical terminology in seven European languages. The first aim of the study was to confirm or reject the international character of the terms of the corpus. The neoclassical etymology of the international words was highlighted, as well as the changes experienced in the loanwords to be adapted to the host lexical system. A second aim of the research undertaken was to analyse the corresponding popular language equivalents to the scientific medical terms studied. The hypothesis that Romance languages had a higher tendency to use international words in popular communication than Germanic languages, as stated by Stichele (2000), was only partially confirmed; English and French lexical items had more cases of overlap of scientific and popular terms than German and Spanish. As most of the scientific terms are mainly known by professionals but appear less accessible to lay audiences, the study claimed that specialized words should be substituted for their popular equivalents to reach a successful communication in doctor-patient healthcare interactions. Keywords. Internationalisms; Word formation; Scientific terminology; Popular terms