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Challenges Faced During Medical Terminology Translation

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Every translator has to face numerous obstacles. It is part of the job. However, there are two challenges that medical translators, in specific, have to go through. They include;

  1. Possessing medical knowledge
  2. Understanding the medical jargon and knowing when to use it. 

 

In this article, we are specially going to discuss option b. Medical terminology poses a lot of challenges. And many experts proclaim that medical terminology translation services have the most difficult jobs than the other translation agencies, such as Life Science Translation Services or Medical website Localization services. 

 

Non-Technical Translation Jobs Vs Medical Terminology Translation Services

In most translation jobs, especially non-technical translation, translators have the freedom to convey the intended message with little or less regard for the change of words or phrases. 

The ultimate goal is to ensure that the message is translated, even if it accounts for a change of words every once in a while. On the contrary, when we are talking about medical terminology translation, changing words is not an option, even if it is to be translated into another language. 

Relevance of Target Audience In Medical Terminology Translation

Many people believe that medical terminology translation does not incorporate the relevance of the target audience. This is a misconception. The target audience plays a huge role in establishing the criteria. Every medical translator needs to be aware of the target audience, and then create content in a customized way to ensure that the message does not only reach the people but is also understood by them. 

Altering Content As Per The Needs of The Audience

Content will be altered as per the needs and requirements of the audience. If the audience is not directly related to the field of medicine, then the translator has to use phrases and words in the layman’s terms. However, if the audience consists of a group of medical professionals who are specialized in their relevant fields then translated text would be relevantly different. 

Examples

Let’s discuss this with the help of an example. 

  • Any layman would be familiar with the term Chickenpox. Hence, translators would not use the term Varicella-which is medical terminology for chickenpox- for non-medical professionals. 

 

  • Eponyms pose a serious problem in medical translation because they often resemble the same concept as another word. The choice between an eponym and another name will depend on which one is most common in the target culture.

Usually, a translator who did not know how to translate medical texts automatically translated the name of the drug in the same way as the intended culture. This, however, would not work.

Source documents often refer to drug names as they are known in the source language, which may be the brand name. If you come across a product name such as “Ventoline” (FR), it may help the final recipient (professional or non-professional) not only to have the English trade name “Ventolin”, but also with its International Non-Copyright (INN) “Salbutamol”. 

 

INN

(INN) is a unique name coined by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a specific drug? There are a few good reasons to use INN. The target text may be read by native English speakers from different countries. 

Are you using British Approved Name (BAN) or United States Adopted Name (USAN)? Another reason is that one drug can be produced by several companies so adding a common name can make it easier to describe the chemical properties of a drug.

 

Determining English or American English

Another condition of determining from the beginning is whether to translate into English or American English (or rather, to take British or American medical terms). This may be a small point, and many doctors will still understand, but not knowing the difference will mean agreeing with the term when you first combine your “hematomas” (US) with “hematomas” (UK).

Sometimes, the spelling may be the same but the meaning is different. “Surgery” is a place where you open in the US, but also with a doctor’s office or their opening hours in the UK.

Use of Metaphors And Symbols In Medical Website Localization services

Finally, you may think that the metaphors or symbols are related not only to the translation of the text but also to the medical translation. Doctors sometimes use harsh words in unpleasant subjects, such as “expiration” for “death”, or “serious illness” for someone who dies and has no hope of recovery. 

How can these be translated into different languages? Related to this are cultural-based metaphors (eg “Spanish Flu”, and – “German measles”)

Wrapping Up

There are many other work-related problems in medical translation, such as hospital joints and the fact that doctors themselves do not agree on terms. To address these, adequate background information and research skills are required; Trusted websites and medical journals should be consulted.

However, recognizing these problems will go a long way in determining the right medical terminology. Any type of translation has its drawbacks; despite the obstacles, medical translation can be very rewarding.

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