Names for Actors in the Medical Field in the 1920 Issues of Medicina, the First Medical Magazine in Independent Lithuania

  • Palmira Zemlevičiūtė
Keywords: terminology, term, medicine, names for actors in the medical field, meaning


The article deals with the names referring to persons engaged in medicine and related sciences as used in the 1920 issues of Medicina, a medical theory and practice magazine of independent Lithuania. The author identifies their meanings and typical groups, discusses their composition and characteristics, and, to some extent, touches upon the matters of their structure and origin. The names of the actors in the medical field carry a high degree of semantic diversity and fall into four identifiable core groups: (1) the names of persons administering treatment, (2) the names of medical training persons, (3) the names of pharmacy persons, and (4) the names of persons undergoing treatment. Within these groups, names further branch off into subgroups based on a set of different, often individual aspects. Still, there are several frequently occurring aspects that should be distinguished: these are the aspects of college medical education, the connection with the military, and the qualifying degree. Although all names of these actors in the medical field are covered by the overarching seme of medicine, they all vary in differential semes. In terms of word formation, the prevailing names for the actors in the medical field are compound words with their key components mostly deriving from Lithuanian terms. Obviously, the prevalence of compounds is the outcome of the need to name different persons associated with medical science and practice, as well as patients, something that cannot be done with single-word terms. Today, many think of a scientific text as one defined by an abundance of foreign terms. The subject source of the names for the actors in the medical field is a science magazine, yet most of the names are of Lithuanian origin. Many of them are suffixal derivatives: gydytojas ‘physician’, mokovas ‘expert’, slaugytojas ‘nurse’, pribuvėja ‘midwife’, seselė ‘sister’, vaistininkas ‘pharmacist’, ligonis ‘a sick person’, džiovininkas ‘a consumptive’, etc. Loanwords are dominated by words of Latin (daktaras ‘doctor’, medikas ‘medic’, pacientas ‘patient’, provizorius ‘pharmaceutical chemist’, sanitaras (‘orderly’), etc.) and Greek (anatomas ‘anatomist’, chirurgas ‘surgeon’, fiziologas ‘physiologist’, terapeutas ‘therapist’, etc.) origin. Hybrids are not very common and usually have a borrowed root and a Lithuanian suffix (stipendininkas ‘scholar’, farmacininkas ‘pharmacist’, venerininkas ‘a male with a venereal disease’, kretinaitė ‘a female with cretinism’, and so on). Conformity with the terminological criterion can mostly be observed in the names of persons administering treatment, whereas a number of the names of persons undergoing treatment are not very terminological due to them being expressed by substantival adjectives and, typically, participles (apsikrėtusysis ‘one who has caught a disease’, pažeistasis ‘(the) affected’, sergantysis ‘(the) sick’, sveikasis ‘(the) healthy’, etc.), or descriptive word combinations (akių liga sergantysis ‘one with an eye disease’, grįžtamąja šiltine sergantysis (‘one with recurrent typhus’, etc.). In addition to linguistic and terminological evidence, the names of actors in the medical field convey a certain amount of subject-related (medical) information. Their meanings provide insight into the medical situation in Lithuania in 1920, practitioners, the most common illnesses of the period, and so on.