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Is it necessary to have specialist background knowledge when translating medical txt for general pub
Thread poster: icgirl
icgirl
Local time: 00:33
English to Chinese
Jul 30, 2006

Hello everyone, I am currently studying medical translation in London and am attempting to find out more about translators’ background knowledge.

The question I am raising is:

“Is it necessary to have specialist background knowledge when translating medical texts for general public?”

It would be great if anyone that has done medical translation before could spare a few seconds to answer the following two questions. You can reply to me directly here or email me at: tinghsuan.huang@imperialc.ac.uk.

After gathering everyone’s feedback, I will post the findings for everyone’s reference. Thank you in advance.

Q1. How will you categorize the medical translation you have done?
A) Only medical research paper or journals (Target readers are medicalnprofessionals.)
B) Only for public science magazines kinds (Target readers are general publics.)
C) Both but more A than B.
D) Both but more B than A.
E) Others. Please illustrate.
Q2. Do you have specialist background knowledge of the medical related field? (Such as bachelor degrees or above in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or psychology)
A)Yes.
B)No.

Thank you very much again for your participation, and your suggestions are also very welcomed.

Sarah.
30/07/06


[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2006-07-31 00:28]


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texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:33
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
my opinion Jul 31, 2006



“Is it necessary to have specialist background knowledge when translating medical texts for general public?” YES

Q1. How will you categorize the medical translation you have done?

A) Only medical research paper or journals (Target readers are medicalnprofessionals.)

Q2. Do you have specialist background knowledge of the medical related field? (Such as bachelor degrees or above in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or psychology)
A)Yes



(I know a couple (just 1 or 2) good translators with no medical background, but they are an exception.)

[Edited at 2006-07-31 01:59]

[Edited at 2006-07-31 02:00]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
No Jul 31, 2006

Everything helps, but...

As translators we have to deal with many subjects because we cannot limit ourselves to only a few we may have specialized in, for life is too short and we have to eat.

That said, what we mainly need to know are the vocabulary and basic concepts involved in any specialty in which we work, and to always realize our limitations and never stop learning.

My own experience has involved quite a bit of work in the area of public health and also translations involving medical records, but not much in the area of research or journals.

Of course if I were a doctor then I'd practice medicine and forget about translation.

I'm not a lawyer or an engineer either, but I also have to do a lot of work in those areas as well, and with a good degree of success. After all, though I am none of the above, I am a translator and that's my specialty.


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Ford Prefect  Identity Verified
Burkina Faso
Local time: 00:33
German to English
+ ...
... Jul 31, 2006

Why do you only give "research publications" and "public science magazines" as options? A lot of (probably most) translation in most fields is for private, not public consumption, medical translation is no exception- much of it is case notes, correspondence, and test results, alongside the usual instruction manuals, insurance claims etc. I translated a textbook recently - does that go under A or B? Neither. It's impossible to generalise

I've translated a pitiful number of research papers, none of them for public consumption but rather for researchers who found an article already published in German and couldn't understand it. However, there is almost certainly a bigger market for translation out of English (the major language of publication) into 5,000 other languages.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:33
know your limits Jul 31, 2006

I did a biology module in college, but that does not automatically mean I am a specialist in medical translation (although I do them if I can handle it). depends on the text too - I'm confident in translating letters and examinations (I've translated many of them by now) but I would be reluctant to translate a medical text book unless I had someone that I could confer with.

I don't think it is a case of "qualifying" as a medical translator, but I believe one should be of a technical/scientific frame of mind in order to do this kind of work.

I've been working on a clinical trial project for cardiac patients since Autumn 2004 and at this stage, I feel like I could do a bypass now (rest assured, I won't!!) But that's because I've read articles about it in the course of the project. I also watch medical TV programmes (anything from Gunter von Hagen to Cosmetic Surgery Live to Scrubs ), I bookmark relevant websites and so on.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 18:33
English to Russian
+ ...
I do believe that medical field is a very special thing Jul 31, 2006

Just like pure science

Personally, when I think "medical" I do not mean public health literature or like - my mind pictures medical science, clinical medicine, OR etc. I really can not imagine that it is in any way possible to translate those things without special education, at least in one of the related fields (life sciences).

Proz gave me an excellent proof - in Russian community we have several very strong members with special education in the medical and related fields, real scientists - when they start talking, we listen silently and bow:-)

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that high school or any non-special college do not give us ANY pre-training and basic knowledge sufficient to start building on it in this field (secondary school biology and some chemistry and physics can hardly be considered as such), as opposite to many technical subjects. But - I could be all wrong...

For me - no-no. Totally illiterate in any part of it and hate it!

I apologize if I upset anyone.
Irene



[Edited at 2006-07-31 10:04]

[Edited at 2006-07-31 11:43]


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icgirl
Local time: 00:33
English to Chinese
TOPIC STARTER
the reason is :) Jul 31, 2006

James Visanji DipTrans PhD wrote:

Why do you only give "research publications" and "public science magazines" as options? A lot of (probably most) translation in most fields is for private, not public consumption, medical translation is no exception- much of it is case notes, correspondence, and test results, alongside the usual instruction manuals, insurance claims etc. I translated a textbook recently - does that go under A or B? Neither. It's impossible to generalise


Hi James,
thanks for asking. The reason why public science magazines shows up is because that is the research I am doing right now, but in order to broaden this category, I use"kinds" at the end of that option. If you find it difficult to categorize your experience into option A, B,C or D, also, there is another option, E) others, which I think it can include more possibility there.

I am very new to this area, and really glad that so many people can share their experience with me.Thanks everyone.

It would be great if you can also give responses to my questions posted at the beginning.Hope to hear more opinions:)


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:33
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Medical text are not for general public Aug 3, 2006

Let me start answering your questions:

Q1. How will you categorize the medical translation you have done?

E) mainly case reports, clinical study manuals, PILs, surgical manuals for new procedures, etc. But all kind of other medical texts for other purposes too.


Q2. Do you have specialist background knowledge of the medical related field? (Such as bachelor degrees or above in medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or psychology)
A)Yes. MD

Okay, now the rest, a medical text is IMO a text with medical content, this should only be translated by people with sound medical knowledge. This is IMO not the same as a "health" related text, which is a text with a health related topic, such as "10 reasons to stop smoking/eating beef".

It is a pitty that you do not understand German. Not long ago there was a question in the Kudoz part of Proz relating to the "(ostia of the) renal arteries", one of the answerers stated:

a) the kidneys are supplied with arterial blood and therefore with blood with low oxygen content.

b) the kidneys are located below the heart, therefore this vessels must be called "ascending renal arteries"

In both cases a "minimum of medical knowledge" would have been enough to know that both statements are completely wrong.

I do not touch financial texts, legal texts, etc.

Why do so many people believe they can handle medical texts? Medicine is one of the most complex and extremly demanding areas.

It took me 6 years for my basic training, 5 years for my specialist training to become a consultant. I am not a translator, not a medical translator, just a specialized doctor, but there are many texts in many medical specialties that I would not touch, because I do not know enough about the topic.

So, a translator with maybe a course in medical translation is qualified to handle medical texts. Never.

Many doctors in this field (translation) are non-perfect translators, but I prefer them to the people who are good with language, but who believe that the kidneys are supplied with blood with low oxygen content.

If you want to get into the medical translation field, start learning the basics in human anatomy and physiology. Get yourself some textbooks about nursing, surgery and internal medicine and learn, learn, learn.

Kind regards

Siegfried





[Edited at 2006-08-04 14:45]


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