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The often opaque and specialized vocabulary that is the language of the medical and biological sciences can be a barrier to students of the medical profession. John Scarborough, in Medical and Biological Terminologies: Classical Origins, takes a fresh approach to this problem, arguing that a knowledge of the historical reasons underlying the choices of words used in these sciences, and of how the meanings of words have changed over the millennia, is far superior to rote memorization.
Beginning with a brief discussion of why jargons are common and necessary, the author proceeds through botany and invertebrate zoology to suggest how living things are classified and related to one another, as well as to demonstrate how Greco-Latinate terms in these fields are important in biomedicine. Scarborough then considers the human body through traditional systematics (bones, nerves, muscles, the respiratory, digestive, reproductive, and vascular systems, endocrines, and the sense organs) to show how nomenclatures for parts and functions reflect the continuous efforts to define the human being.