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"
Not sure if your comment is appropriate? Check our Commenting Policy first.
New lesson idea? Please contact us.