Antonymy of Medical Terms in "Vidaus ligų klinikos vadovėlis" (1928–1930)

  • Palmira Zemlevičiūtė
Keywords: term, medical term, antonymic term, antonymy, contradictory opposite, contrary opposite, vector opposite


The article deals with the antonymic medical terms in Vidaus ligų klinikos vadovėlis (Textbook of Cliniccal Symptoms of Internal Diseases) (1928–1930), the landmark five-volume work by Kazimieras Buinevičius (1872–1953), Lithuanian physician of the inter-war era. It explains the ways in which antonymy is expressed, discusses the structure of antonymic terms and the types of the opposites that link them. Antonymy is not a rare semantic phenomenon amidst the medical terms of the textbook: pairs of antonymous medical terms usually function within the same sentence, and sometimes in the contiguous context as well (on the same or an adjacent page, as a rule). Antonymy of medical terms is usually devised by way of lexis, less often through formation (with the prefix ne- ‘non-’ being the most productive means of formation). Pairs of antonymous medical terms are related by three types of opposites: contradictory (most common), contrary, and vector.
It was established that the antonymy of compound terms in the textbook (mostly) arises from the subordinate components (which are mostly represented by simple, relative, and pronominal adjectives and less commonly by participles) and the main components (mostly represented by nouns with the suffix -imas) that share antonymic links. Quite a few of these means of expression are involved in forming more than just one compound medical term.
Since the research showed that the subordinate components in compound medical terms were largely words of the common lexis, it can be argued that the antonymy in the terminology of the textbook had been inherited from the antonymy of the common lexis rather than from any classification of medical terms.
A typical characteristic of the antonymy of the medical terms in the textbook is that the antonymic elements of compound terms are not always consistent in their expression: there are some instances of partial antonymy, while the collision of antonymy and simple negation leads to a possibility of quasi-antonyms and working antonyms (i.e., those that occur in the discourse of the text).

History of Terminology