Introduction to Medical Terminology
Another issue to keep in mind is that the vast majority of the English language is based on foreign languages such as Latin and French. However, even though the words we use in everyday conversation are based on a foreign language, they do not sound strange to us because we use them so often. In the same way, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals do not feel strange using medical terms because they were taught these words during their schooling and they use them on a daily basis at work. For people who are not health care professionals, the reverse is true, and medical terms often sound strange and complex.
But why did anyone start using these words to begin with, you ask? One reason is that medical terms provide one word that describes something that would otherwise take many more words to say. For example, it is quicker to say "microcephaly" than to say "an abnormally small head." In a profession where getting things done quickly is very important, the ability to communicate information with as few words as possible is invaluable.
Medical terminology is also used to reflect the knowledge that one has of his/her particular field of study. Many people feel assured that a health care professional is competent because he/she can speak fluently in medical terminology. Likewise, the health care professional often feels a sense of comfort and pride after using such words. After all, these words do sound fancy and intelligent.
You too will be able to learn medical terms in no time by understanding the origins of these words in Latin, Greek, or another language. To help you do this, we at MedFriendly have placed the origin of each medical term at the end of the description for it, whenever possible. The main point that we would like you to understand is that you do not need to be a doctor in order to use and understand complex-sounding medical terms. All you need to do is have confidence in yourself and refuse to be intimidated by a word's sound or length.
An important issue to realize when you are trying to learn medical terminology is that it is in many ways like learning a foreign language. Like a foreign language, medical terms often sound strange and confusing to the untrained ear. As a result of being unable to understand the words, they will have very little meaning to you. Although many medical terms sound strange, confusing, and sometimes intimidating, it is wrong to assume that only highly educated people can use and understand them.
Medical terms only sound like a foreign language because the vast majority of them have Greek and Latin origins. Since Greek and Latin are both foreign languages, it makes sense that medical terms also sound foreign. So, for example, although the word "microcephaly" certainly sounds strange, all it means is an abnormally small head. Microcephaly comes from the Greek word, "mikros," which means "small," and the Greek word "kephale," which means "head." The funny thing is that if you were to say the words "abnormally small head" to people who only spoke Greek, this would sound just as fancy and technical to them as the word "microcephaly" does to you.
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