A Proposed Standard International Acupuncture Nomenclature: Report of a WHO Scientific Group
(1991; 36 pages)
Table of Contents
View the documentWHO Scientific Group on International Acupuncture Nomenclature
View the document1. Introduction
Close this folder2. Background
View the document2.1 Historical perspective
View the document2.2 Towards a standard nomenclature2
View the document2.3 Essential elements of a standard nomenclature4
View the document2.4 Nomenclature proposals to date5
View the document2.5 The importance of a common language
Open this folder and view contents3. Proposed standard international acupuncture nomenclature
Open this folder and view contents4. Recommendations for further action by WHO in the field of acupuncture
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentBack cover

2.2 Towards a standard nomenclature2

2 Based on: AKERELE, O. & LIU GUO-BIN. Acupuncture: towards a standard terminology. World health, November 1985, pp. 20-21.

While the need for a common language has recently become more pressing, difficulties in communication about acupuncture have long been recognized. For one thing, acupuncture points have not one but several different names, which is not surprising given the vastness of China and its many dialects. Another problem has been the differing pronunciations of the Chinese characters, a difficulty compounded by the fact that acupuncture has long been practised in neighbouring countries of Asia. Moreover, acupuncturists in other countries have sometimes mistranslated the Chinese names of the points, and this has led to additional confusion and misunderstanding.

Efforts have been made in China and Japan to develop a uniform nomenclature. In 1965, a Japanese Meridian and Points Committee was established which recommended Japanese names and an international numbering system for all acupuncture points. In China, the All China Acupuncture and Moxibustion Society subsequently set up a Nomenclature Committee, which developed a national system of names. Other countries then formed their own committees but important terminological differences persisted.

In October 1980, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific sent a consultant to China to review the existing nomenclature and to identify needs for uniformity, with the ultimate aim of developing an internationally acceptable standard nomenclature.3 During 1981 and 1982 Chinese and Japanese experts met five times to formulate guiding principles for standardization, but because of the complexities of the issues involved, consensus could not be reached.

3 NAKAJIMA, A. Assignment report to the People’s Republic of China, 11 October-2 November 1980. Manila, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, 9 June 1981 (unpublished report ICP/PHC/005-E).

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