Advanced lexicography for diabetes in Japan and China

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This is a followup to "Japanese words that are dying out: focus on diabetes" (11/21/23).  Because it's history of science / medicine for specialists and too technical for the majority of readers, I will not provide transcriptions for all but a few of the most common terms.

[The following is a guest post from Nathan Hopson]

Google doesn't have data for a Japanese ngram search, but here are the oldest results from searches of the National Diet Library (NDL) and the Asahi and Yomiuri newspapers:
Translated by 森鼻宗次 (Morihana Sōji).
Original authors listed as:
ゼオルヂービウード (George B. Wood)
ヘンリーハルツホールン (Henry Hartshorne)
Penn grad Hartshorne spent time in Japan, and wrote Wood's memoir; Wood was also a Penn grad
Looks like the original text of this book was Wood's, selected and edited by Hartshorne? Wood and Harsthorne were both very prolific, and I can't easily tell which text has been translated.

1880.05.14 一昨日中の島の府立……(糖尿病研究でウサギ使う)
1887.03.12  医科大学卒業生の高安右人が糖尿病と眼病の関係を研究のため大学院に入学
However, I did a little more digging. Something didn't feel right.
And here, as they say, is where shit got real.
According to an article in the journal 糖尿病 (makes sense):
Before being translated as 糖尿病, diabetes mellitus was called 尿崩 at least as far back as a 1792 text called 西説内科撰要, which used the term to translate the Latin "urinae profluvium," i.e., diabetes. The text was a translation and/or summary (I can't tell in the time I have) of Ezuiverde geneeskonst, of Kort onderwys der meeste inwendige Ziekten (the subtitle of which I take to mean something like "A short lecture on most internal diseases").
The same 2005 medical journal article asserts that it was not until 1857 that we see 蜜尿 and 1876 that we have the first extant example of 糖尿病 in 検尿必携. 
However, you'll note that I was able to find it earlier than that, in Morihana's text, which means either:
1. The article is wrong?
2. I'm fundamentally misunderstanding something?
I don't think it's #2: 
* I double-checked the date (明治6 = 1873)
スクリーンショット 2023-11-16 13.10.11.png
* I quintuple-checked the kanji (seventh line here)
スクリーンショット 2023-11-16 13.09.28.png
If it's #1, perhaps I've made an important discovery? 
If you think I'm not losing my mind, I'm actually going to email the Japan Diabetes Association, the publisher of Diabetes. Thoughts?

Forgot to mention that the Chinese term xiāokě 消渇 was used from around the 10th century, and in addition to the now-standard 糖尿病, there were multiple translations in the mid-19th century, including:

The term was standardized in 1907.


Afterword by VHM

The Chinese Ngram chart for "tángniàobìng 糖尿病/醣尿病 "Japanese words that are dying out: focus on diabetes" (11/21/23) supports my supposition that the East Asian word for "sugar-urine-sickness" is fairly recent, with 0% frequency before 1897, a tiny bump (about 0.000025%) at 1900, then back to 0% until 1934 when it went up to 0.000035%, then up to around 0.000100% around 1955, a precipitous rise to more than 0.000300% just after 1908, a slide down to a trough of about half that circa 1990, then another very steep rise to 0.0005985252 in 2006.

[Thanks to Mark Swofford]


  1. CCF said,

    November 21, 2023 @ 8:38 pm

    The phrase "尿崩" means another disease, diabetes insipidus (DI), in both Chinese and Japanese currently.
    (I believe that DI was not distinguishable from diabetes mellitus (DM) back to the 18th century)

  2. wanda said,

    November 22, 2023 @ 1:07 am

    "(I believe that DI was not distinguishable from diabetes mellitus (DM) back to the 18th century)" Technically it was. People had noticed that some people with polyuria had sugary urine, while others had bland urine. But the diseases were not classified as separate.

  3. Wanda said,

    November 22, 2023 @ 1:16 am

    Wikipedia say that 消渴 goes back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. Isn't that older than 10th century? (It also wouldn't surprise me if Wikipedia is wrong.)

  4. Nathan Hopson said,

    November 22, 2023 @ 5:14 am

    Thanks @Wanda for both of your comments!

    Very interesting about the difference between DM and DI.

    I got the reference for 消渴 from the same journal article cited above — though I did also see it in Wikipedia, when I checked. Maybe the article's author got the info from Wikipedia, but maybe it's just that the text wasn't in (wide) circulation in Japan until C10, etc. My recollection is that it was "rediscovered" or "reconstructed" or something in C8, which would lend that idea some credence — but I'm no China scholar.

  5. Jonathan Silk said,

    November 23, 2023 @ 3:45 am

    The full title of the Dutch book appears to be (you seem to have missed out the first G):

    Gezuiverde geneeskonst, of kort onderwys der meeste inwendige ziekten : ten nutte van chirurgyns, die ter zee of velde dienende, of in andere omstandigheden, zig genoodzaakt vinden dusdanigeuziekten te behandelen

    The google translation of the title is not bad:

    Purified medicine, or brief instruction in most internal diseases: for the benefit of surgeons who, serving at sea or in the field, or in other circumstances, find themselves forced to treat such diseases

    I'm not sure about the nuance of onderwys in this period; now it means education, so maybe "course"?

    Perhaps one of the many reading this who knows Dutch better than I do can clarify.

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