The first criterion refers to the choice of terms to be included in the dictionary. I chose terms that were particularly appealing from a linguistic or conceptual perspective, not because of their relevance or importance in the fields of allergology and immunology. Otherwise, according to my calculations, it would be possible to compile a dictionary with 5,000 terms in allergology and immunology. However, the almost 2,500 that appear herein provide a fundamental curricular cornerstone that will help solve most of the doubts that arise in allergy and immunology specialists’ teaching, research and clinical work. In addition to the terms in these specialist fields, this Diccionario inglés-español de alergología e inmunología clínica also contains other terms from genetics, biochemistry, respiratory medicine, anatomy and other scientific areas. I included them because they are commonly used in the allergology and immunology literature and yet they are likely to be less well known.
The fields of allergology and immunology are full of abbreviations. Considering the multitude of complex terms that populate this terminology, abbreviations are probably the lesser of two evils. In the case of molecules, substances, mediators, cytokines, receptors, assays and test parameters, I have decided to keep all abbreviations (initialisms and acronyms) in English. It would be complete chaos to abbreviate eosinophil cationic protein to PCE in Spanish (from proteína catiónica del eosinófilo) instead of accepting ECP, which is the universal abbreviation for this protein. English initialisms and acronyms have long been accepted as international abbreviations for these concepts. There are just two exceptions to this rule: I recommend using the Spanish abbreviations ADN and ARN for deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid, rather than their English equivalents, DNA and RNA. This exception is explained by the special nature of these two molecules, which are the origin of life itself. Therefore, applying a more sentimental than scientific criterion, I believe we should use the Spanish abbreviations for these two organic acids, even though it violates the general criterion for abbreviations described above.
All abbreviations are expanded in the dictionary itself, except for one, RAE, which stands for the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy). Any dictionary written in Spanish for Spanish speakers must always take into account the criterion of this institution, whose purpose, since it was founded in 1713, has been “to establish the form and meaning of Castilian words with all propriety, elegance and purity.” From this corner of specialised medical language, I would also like to contribute to this end. The RAE dictionary has been a constant reference point for me when researching non-specialised, general language, and I have always followed its recommendations unless there was a well-founded reason for not doing so, confirmed by other authors. However, for specialised language, we know that it is an unreliable resource, because most medical terms (and allergy and immunology terms in particular) are either missing or explained with formal and conceptual errors. However, the RAE dictionary has been an invaluable point of reference in my work.
With regard to specialised language, I have been eminently guided by the Libro rojo by Fernando A. Navarro, also available here on Cosnautas. The Libro rojo is the leading Spanish dictionary in the medical field, and its criteria have provided a starting point for solving a large part of the linguistic doubts that arise in specialised medical language. For this reason, I believe that if medical professionals use but one terminology resource, it should be the Libro rojo.
With regard to enzymes, I use the Spanish version of the Joint Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) and International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), according to which, the enzyme substrate precedes the enzyme name. However, in Spanish, a hyphen is added between the substrate and the enzyme to denote the substrate-enzyme relationship and thus remove the adjectival appearance of the enzyme itself. For example, alcohol deshidrogenasa would infer an alcohol that exerts a dehydrogenase action, which is not the case. By joining the two terms with a hyphen (alcohol-deshidrogenasa), it is clear that the dehydrogenase acts on the alcohol. In many cases I have also included the systematic name, although in general this is used much less.
Names of all international institutions and organisations are written in English and in italics. The only exception is the World Health Organization (WHO), which is so important and widely known that I have used its established Spanish name, Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS).
Finally, some dictionary entries are singular and some are plural. The difference lies in a conceptual criterion, because in immunology many terms relate to substance groups or families. It is therefore more logical to use the plural in these cases. Examples of such terms are addressins, Bet v 1 homologues, defensins and B7 molecules. On the other hand, other terms, such as interleukin, cytokine and immunoglobulin, also represent groups of substances, but semantically they have a singular form too, so I have entered them as such in the dictionary.