Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Applied Linguistics (M.A.)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Shinian Wu

Second Advisor

Sean Lancaster

Third Advisor

Daniel Brown

Academic Year



In China, medical English as a specific target language use domain has been of high need to Chinese doctors and college medical students. It is mainly used for publishing research articles in international medical journals and presenting at international medical conferences. For this reason, the study of linguistic characteristics of medical English will benefit Chinese doctors and medical students in their efforts to learn English in the field of medicine. Nevertheless, “medical English” is recognized as a concentration of study as part of the English major at some universities in China while in other colleges, medical students just learn generic English due to a lack of a clear operational definition of “medical English”. The problem arises when colleges and universities purport to teach “medical English” to their students in the field of medicine because their curricula can have high variance and instructors have no guidance for “medical English”. Under the circumstance, this study examines the specific features of medical English in an effort to clearly delineate medical English for curricular and instructional purposes. Specifically, the linguistic features that characterize medical English are explored. This exploration relies on corpus linguistic data collected from 15 English-medium medical research articles (RAs) selected from five medical journals published in 2017 in order to examine four specific lexical and syntactic features of medical English. The procedure was executed manually and by computer. The findings suggest that medical English can be characterized as a legitimate register of English with the linguistic features of proportional specialized medical vocabulary, nominalization, passivization, and sentence complexity. Instructors of English are pedagogically recommended to pay attention to specialized medical terminology and nominalized forms, introduce passive voice, and focus on clauses and complex sentence structure when teaching English to medical students.

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