Sentence structure of Medical English (3)
5. Putting parallel ideas in parallel forms
There are two things we should pay attention to o this point. On one hand, grammatically Parallel ideas should be in parallel. On the other, comparison ideas should be in parallel.A good sentence should tell its readers the messages in a short time. Speaking of time-shorten and clear sentences, the most important and basic requirements of sentence should be simple and direct, or we can say precise and concise. But in medical English writing or translating, there are many factors will become obstacles on our way to simplify sentence.
There are six most common factors which influence the concise and precise of sentences.
1. Fail to express the core message with the subject, verb and completer in the sentence.
2. Nouns clusters.
3. Sentences over-long and contains too much contents.
4. Using unclear antecedents to represent pronoun and to lead the clause sentence.
5. Putting Improperly using preposition phrases to express actions or movements ideas in unparallel forms
6. Grammar errors
First of all, let us pay attention to the parallelism of the parallel ideas. Parallel ideas mean their function or position is the same and the readers or listeners can chooose one of the two. Let’s look at the following sentences.
1. The mechanical response of heart muscles depends on both the absolute osmola increase and on the species studied.
The phrases “the absolute osmola increase” and “the species studied” is the parallelism of ideas.
2. The solution lies not in prohibition but in developing self-control.
3. The simplest treatment consists in keeping the skin dry, the avoidance of overheating, and the application of talcum.
4. Some of the causes of the failure are the following: some important features has been overlooked, lack of careful examination before marking the diagnosis.
5. Do you advise me to see a doctor or to that I take the drug?
6. The text was written for residents, interns, and to help them teach their students.
7. When a operation is designed to improve function rather than extirpation of an organ, surgical technique becomes paramount.
Common problems met in comparing parallel sentences.
1. Improperly use “ compare to”
Ways to improve：first, we can use “Comparatives ＋ than” rather than “ compare to”
Ex34:We found a higher KD at 37℃ compared to 25℃.
This sentence can be paraphrased into “we found a KD at 37℃ which is higher than that of 25℃.”
Secondly , use “compare to” together with “decrease” or “increase”.
Ex35: Experimental rabbits had a 28% decrease in alveolar phospholipid as compared to control rabbits during normal ventilations.
Version 1: 试验组兔子和对照组兔子的alveolar phospholipid 都有减少，但减少程度不同
Experimental rabbits had a 28% greater decrease in alveolar phospholipid than did control rabbits during normal ventilations.
Version 2: 仅试验组兔子的alveolar phospholipid 都有减少
Experimental rabbits had a 28% decrease in alveolar phospholipid but control rabbits had no decrease during normal ventilations.
Version 3: 两组都无减少，仅是试验组兔子的基础值较低
Experimental rabbits had a 28% less alveolar phospholipid than did control rabbits during normal ventilations.
Ex42: We frequently observed a decrease in mean coronary arterial pressure compared to mean aortic pressure after carbochromen injection.
Version 1: （两种压力都降低，但冠状动脉的压力降的程度更大）
We frequently observed a greater decrease in mean coronary arterial pressure than in mean aortic pressure after carbochromen injection.
Version 2: （仅冠状动脉的压力降低）
We frequently observed a decrease in mean coronary arterial pressure but not in mean aortic pressure after carbochromen injection.
Version 3: （可能都未降低，只是主动脉压力的基础值较低）
We frequently observed a decrease in mean coronary arterial pressure was lower than mean aortic pressure after carbochromen injection.
2. Make comparison between different things, which have opposite characters.
Eg: Like Dr Zhang, Dr Li’s experimental method is drawn from literature.
Activation-controlled relaxation in these membrane-deprived cells resembled intact myocardium from frogs.
Medical English need not be difficult. In Medical writing, we say: “The best English is that which gives the sense in the fewest short words” (a dictum printed for some years in the Instructions to Authors of the Journal of Bacteriology). Literary devices, metaphors and the like, divert attention from the substance to the style. They should be used rarely in medical writing.
Medical writing is: firstly, to inform rather than entertain; secondly, to report in the research field; thridly, to enable competent peers to repeat the experiment (reproducibility).
We have some guidelines of the word choice
Words in medical writing should be precise.
Words in medical writing should be simple.
Words in medical writing should be necessary.
3. Improper use of “that” or “those” in comparing sentences.
In comparing sentences, if the comparing parts are linked ( haven’t been departed by verbs), “that” or “those” should be used, otherwise “that” or “those” are not necessary used.
Losses at 34 min were greater than those at 4 min.
Losses were greater at 34 min than at 4 min.
TNF in endotoxin-treated dogs was higher than that in control dogs.
TNF was higher in endotoxin-treated dogs than in control dogs.
Stiff joint was far more frequently found in Group 1 than that in Group 2.
6. Last but not the least, Grammar Mistakes
The appearance of nondialyzable S in the luminal bath was measured.
The esophagus, stomach, and duodenum of each rabbit was examined.
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