JACIII Vol.18 No.6 pp. 1020-1025
doi: 10.20965/jaciii.2014.p1020


Communication Support System Between Japanese Patients and Foreign Doctors Using Onomatopoeia to Express Pain Symptoms

Maki Sakamoto, Yuya Ueda, Ryuichi Doizaki,
and Yuichiro Shimizu

Graduate School of Informatics and Engineering, The University of Electro-Communications, 1-5-1, Chofugaoka, Chofushi, Tokyo 182-8585, Japan

September 30, 2013
May 15, 2014
Online released:
November 20, 2014
November 20, 2014
onomatopoeia, sound symbolism, pain, medical support, multilingual communication

In medical interviews, Japanese patients often use onomatopoeia, such as ‘zuki-zuki’ and ‘chiku-chiku,’ to express pain symptoms and medical conditions. However, onomatopoeia shows cross-linguistic variation, and thus Japanese onomatopoeia cannot be used effectively to express pain symptoms in medical interviews with foreign doctors who do not speak Japanese. In this study, we developed a system that supports communication between Japanese patients and foreign doctors by putting an onomatopoeia evaluation system to medical use. Our system estimates the quality of pain and other medical conditions based on the sound symbolic meanings expressed by certain onomatopoetic expressions. The relationships between the sound symbolic properties and rating scales were obtained through psychological experiments in which 120 participants evaluated the mental images of 354 Japanese onomatopoeia terms used to express pain symptoms and medical conditions against 35 semantic differential (SD) scales such as “sharp–dull,” “strong–weak,” and “momentary–continuous.” Our system accepts any Japanese onomatopoetic expression input by users and can also respond to any novel onomatopoetic expression. If the rating scales were translated into various languages, foreign doctors all over the world would be able to understand the meaning of Japanese onomatopoeia.

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Last updated on Mar. 24, 2017