All in a Name
The only standard name for the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine is the Chinese:
(there is another book, ling shu, which I won't get into right now)
黄帝 (Huang2 di4) is fairly strait forward to translate. "Yellow Emperor"
内经 (nei4 jing1) and 素问 (su4 wen4), on the other hand are a little more tricky.
内 can mean inside; inner; internal; within; interior
经 can mean classics; sacred book; pass through; to undergo; scripture
So 内经 could be translated as "scripture within"; "sacred book within"; And I think this is why the word "canon" fits into most of the translated titles. I'm not sure if the term 内 has anything to do with meanning internal in this context. I have a feeling that 内 has to do with being "hidden" and therefore of value. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with internal medicine though. Also, I need a better understanding of the character 经 to be clear about the meaning of 内经.
素 I do not know what this character means in this context. I need to know the etymology of the character. The dictionary says "white; plain; element; always". I wonder if it could be elemental in this context, and therefore meaning fundamental. It would be kind of silly I think to translate it as "plain" since it's so important to Chinese medicine.
问 means questions.
So my guess is that 素问 means "fundamental questions"
So maybe a good English title would be:
"The Yellow Emperor's Scripture of Fundamental Questions"
"The Yellow Emperor's Sacred Book of Fundamental Questions"
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