Communicating traditional Chinese medicine across cultures rhetorical and linguistic challenges and possible solutions



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Texas Tech University


This dissertation addresses the problems inherent in cross-cultural technical communication of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It differs from previous similar works in that, for the first time, it approaches the problems of cross-cultural technical communication from a multi-disciplinary perspective. The author holds that complicated challenges in cross-cultural technical communication need to be studied in a multi-dimensional context because cross-cultural technical communication is concerned with different fields. The author uses combined qualitative research methods��interviews, a survey, and text analysis��to critique a web site designed to explain TCM to Western audiences. He uses theories from the fields of rhetoric, linguistics, cross-cultural communication, technical editing, translation, and document design to analyze the shortcomings of the web page. Then he suggests ways in which the page could be modified to better serve its audience. These are some of the problems the author identifies: inappropriate discourse patterns; common language errors in sentence structures and word choice; inappropriate and erroneous translations, such as overtranslation, undertranslation, mistranslation, inconsistency, and awkward language; editing weaknesses in typography, graphics, and text; and document design problems. Together with possible solutions suggested, this analysis is a practical guide to those who are studying or pursuing cross-cultural technical communication. The findings and principles the dissertation discussed are also applicable to other types of cross-cultural communication.