Various attempts at language standardization have been central in efforts to integrate Chinese medicine into a global, mainstream medical framework. At the same time, language has also proven critical in efforts to integrate Chinese medicine into personal frameworks of meaning as students around the globe grapple with multiple translations. In an effort to convey some of these diverse experiences of standardization and plurality of translations, this article offers four “snapshots” in the life of language standardization in Chinese medicine. These snapshots are derived from extensive, multisited ethnographic research conducted over four years in diverse settings in both China and the United States. The article thus offers an appreciation of standardization as an ongoing series of human encounters, a complex web of human networks shaping the always changing answers to seemingly simple questions about the motivations behind standardization, the methods used to create standards, and the implications of standards in an increasingly “global” Chinese medicine. As such, it contributes to an emerging “anthropology of translation” that underscores the role of human relationships, power, understanding, and interaction in translation.

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