Zoological Metaphor in Medical Terminology

2022. № 6, 22-37

Alexei V. Balakhonov1, Dmitrij I. Pankov2, Yuri I. Stroev1, Leonid P. Churilov1,
1Saint Petersburg State University, 2Institute for Linguistic Studies RAS (Russia, St. Petersburg), Balakhonov@mail.ru


The article discusses the animal names that are used to characterize a person in a state of health and illness. The paper analyzes metaphorical desig nations of a person by their appearance, character, etc., found in dictionaries (cf.: amoeba, scorpion, aphid, etc.), examples of stable comparisons gives using zoonyms (stuck like a tick, dumb like a fi sh and etc.). The article shows that the phenomenon of metaphorization and metonymic transfer of the meanings of commonly used words is typical for the formation of terms in the sublanguage of medicine. We give numerous examples of syndromes and symptoms of human diseases, objects of its morphology, physio logy and pathology where animal names are used — from cnidarians to mammals (mitral butterfl y, fi sh mouth, frog paw symptom, etc.). The given terms are different in their origin, some terms are calqued from Greek or Latin, cf.: arachnodactyly (Greek ἀράχνη — spider + δάκτυλος fi nger) — “spider fi ngers”; goose foot (Latin: pes anserinus). In addition to modern terms, obsolete names of diseases are also given, cf.: gorlovaya zhaba (‘toad throat’) (obsolete) — tonsillitis; grudnaya zhaba (‘cardiac angina’) (obsolete) — angina pectoris. The resulting terms do not contain an assessment of a person (personal qualities), the object of metaphorical comprehension in such cases is the affected functional system of a body or an organ. This is the difference between a medical zoomorphic metaphor and a general language metaphor.

For citation:

Balakhonov A. V., Pankov D. I., Stroev Yu. I., Churilov L. P. Zoological Metaphor in Medical Terminology. Russkaya Rech’. No. 6. Pp. 22–37.