Hints and links for medical translators


This small compilation aims to help translators quickly find information on nomenclature and abbreviations from reliable sources in order to better adapt themselves to the market.

In nature, the specialization of a species is detrimental to its long-term adaptation to an ever-changing environment. Does translators’ survival follow the theory of natural selection? Specialization seems a must and clients require that translators strictly follow the jargon used by the professionals who will use the target documents. However, this does not mean that translators cannot adapt to the evolution of the field. Contrary to biological evolution, where both specialist and generalist species co-exist in a dynamic equilibrium to share niches, the struggle for life of translators is more efficient when they are specialized but have tools and information to adapt themselves to the large variety of needs of clients.

Nevertheless, this adaptation raises myriad questions for a translator: where do I find information quickly? Can I rely on the source? Shall I be able to explain my choices to the clients?

Furthermore, even for a professionally trained translator, if the time spent on foraging for nomenclature, abbreviation and jargon is wasted at the expense of time necessary for ensuring proper linguistic quality, then fluency and clarity of translation can be jeopardized.

Thankfully, there are many ways of supplementing our initial knowledge with minimal cost and energy in order to fulfill the requirements of the market.

The aim of this paper is to share some website addresses and references for medical translators. If there is a naivety in promoting open source and sharing hints, we wish to advocate the idea that it is necessary to share as many good standards as possible in order to foster good comprehension. We can take it as a duty and truly a literally academic endeavor or win-win game.

It is without a doubt easier to specialize when we have degrees in the sciences, medicine, pharmacy, engineering or aeronautics. Nevertheless, anybody can earn experience by following three simple rules: we understand our source texts, we use good terminology and we keep ourselves updated on grammar and style issues. These three rules will be our guide.

1. Thou shalt understand thy source text

It is essential to thoroughly understand the subject before starting translation. It means knowing “everything” on the subject. Nevertheless, finding a good starting point for reading is not an easy task. The most easily accessible sites such as Wikipedia can be useful for rapidly understanding the background of a subject, but they can be misleading if we rely solely on this type of source. The quality of expert review is not homogeneous and jewels stand side by side with poor-quality articles (reports).

There are other ways to find peer-reviewed information on health-related subjects.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) houses the site of “PubMed,” the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) National Institutes of Health database of all the scientific literature related to health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

With more than 22 million citations from biomedical literature, it is considered the Holy Grail for getting up-to-date information. With the PubMed Central initiative, not only article summaries are freely available but also full-text pdf. At first glance, it may…

Read more | translationjournal.net

Photo credit | Moses Shares the Ten Commandments by Oh Kaye

Posted on June 11, 2014 in Field of translation

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