Understanding and translating complex noun phrases in medical
English: avoiding the pitfalls of coordinated structures

METM 06, Barcelona
27-28 October 2006

François Maniez
Saturday 28, 10:20-11:30, Room 2

Scientific articles contain a large proportion of complex noun phrases in which the common presence of modifiers and coordination conjunctions often gives rise to ambiguous structures, and medical literature is no exception to that rule. This communication studies the various mechanisms at play in English learners’ understanding of complex noun phrases in scientific English and argues for the creation of a comprehensive bilingual database designed for the inclusion of its most frequently used multi-word units, whether they are complex terms or collocations. Based on the study of monolingual as well as English-to-French bilingual corpora, we examine the translation problems that are caused by various noun phrase structures, from relatively simple cases involving the use of modifiers to much more complex structures involving the use of both nouns and adjectives as modifiers within coordinated noun phrases.

François Maniez, Lyon 2 University. Prof. Maniez has been teaching medical English in a graduate program at Lyon 2 University for the past fifteen years. In addition to numerous scholarly articles, his work in the field includes the translation into French of Owen Epstein’s Pocket Guide to Clinical Examination and he is the author of L’anglais médical en situation (both published by Masson-Elsevier). He has also developed a more recent interest for natural language processing.