Medical language is difficult to master even in your own tongue. Need proof? Check out some online medical language quizzes.

In our posts about medical translation, we often emphasize that medical translators and interpreters need to start by understanding medical terminology in their own language – or languages, in the case of bilinguals.

Medical terminology ranges from highly scientific language to on-the-job “lingo.”


Translators who produce written renditions of scientific papers need to be especially familiar with the former, whereas interpreters, who work principally with oral language, must be highly aware of the latter. In between the two extremes lies what we could call “medical vocabulary” – the terms for diseases, symptoms and conditions that are part of everyday usage in healthcare settings, but that can sound like a foreign language, even to students studying for medical careers.

Medical vocabulary, like trivia, has become the subject of online games and quizzes. In fact, my Google search for “medical terminology quiz” turned up an astounding 243,000 results.

For example, Sheppard Software offers 20-item quizzes on 340 medical terms – all in English (or Latin, as the case may be.) If you have any doubt that medical language is a linguistic world unto itself, check out this “pretty easy” medical terminology quiz. And to see what medical interpreters are up against, try to find an on-the-spot foreign language translation for your (probably few) correct answers!

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