Medical Translation Involves Focused Skills


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Medical and Pharmaceutical translation is a highly specialized domain and should only ever be carried out by suitably qualified translators, preferably doctors or biomedical engineers who have experience in a particular medical field and have language degrees.It is true that you cannot translate a text if you have not understood it, so the knowledge of a language is only one of the prerequisites if we talk about Medical Translation. Technical (in particular medical) writing has its own style of expression, and somebody may produce a translation of sad consequences if not familiar with it, no matter how excellent his or her linguistic skills might be. For example, you can often find the word “anamnese” in medical texts in German and you can find its equivalent, “anamnesis” in almost any German-English medical dictionary. However, physicians all over the world always write “case history of a patient” and never “anamnesis’, which a translator of no medical experience would probably not know and surely not use. Similarly, to hire somebody who has deep insight into the subject but superficial knowledge of the language is not a better decision. For example, an expert in the area may have hard time until he or she finds out that the German word Patientengut is best translated as “patient records”.

Medical translation services are now particularly important because most medical literature is written in English or German, which are languages that many people do not speak. Any medical translation mistake can be of serious, in some cases even lethal consequences, so it is best to rely on a good German Translator agency that guarantees for the quality of the work of its translators.

The situation with other languages is similar, too. If we look trough an English – Spanish dictionary we will be stricken by the fact that it abounds in direct translations from English that frequently do not correspond to the terms actually used in Spanish medical practice. There are cases when the term for a particular process or item in the target language is different from the one used in the source language, a fact, that is not noted in the dictionary. Two examples to support this statement: the terms radioscopia and antibiograma of which you can find a definition in monolingual Spanish dictionaries, but if you open a Spanish-English dictionary you will come across their more common English equivalents:”fluoroscopy”and “antibiotic sensitivity test”. So many Spanish to English Translation agencies and freelancers use the equivalent English terms (fluoroscopia and prueba de sensibilidad a los antibióticos) because they do not even suppose that in medical practice there are Spanish counterparts.We must also bear in mind that there is a difference between a medical translator and a medical interpreter.

A medical interpreter facilitates the communication between a doctor and a patient, whereas a medical translator specializes in translation of written documents, e.g. patient information and history records, patient consent forms; medical journals and other.Furthermore, medical traslators are also classified as generalists or specialists. A generalist medical translator is a translator may have formal training and extensive medical experience, but he or she is not familiar with a particular area of medical practice. Specialized translators are those medical translators who have gained specific training within a specialty field that gives them an increased acquaintance with the terminology and its usage in the given language.

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