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Here are some of the translations I performed which required a particular effort and illustrate my approach of translation.
Complete professional medical history of a patient
I had to translate 40 pages of medical exams undertaken by a patient during the length of a particular employment. The documents were written by many doctors with different abbreviation styles. Each document had a specific layout, sometimes with complex and nested tables. The initial sources were PDF versions of scanned pages. As a consequence, the handwritten parts were often incompletely visible. I translated the content, building up glossaries of shorthand notations as I progressed. I rebuilt the layout from scratch in order to stick to the originals.
Research article for publication
The client had written a research manuscript of 3160 words (plus references) in English, about prostate cancer imaging. They wanted to submit the article to a French medical journal. I translated the article, including figure annotations and legends.
Research article needed for trial in court
The client needed a 15800 words article in French, in the field of prostheses, to be translated in US English. An initial translation was performed, but the result was extremely bad (half was done by Machine Translation, the other by a translator not fluent in the target language). The translation was to be used in court and expected the next day. I worked all day and all night to provide the translation before the deadline.
A surgery report for the removal of a skull tumor was available in French (691 words). I translated it in English, keeping the length and layout of all sections. The difficulty rested with the specific region of the skull involved in the surgery. Indeed, the French and English nomenclatures for the bones in this region are based on different systems. So the translation could not be performed with one to one matchings. In order to solve the problem, I learned both anatomy and embryologic origin of the region, including bones, nerves, and muscles.
Report on an imaging examination
I received a document in French (482 words) describing the MRI examination of a patient, to be translated in US English. The initial report was either badly written by hand or dictated, and this version transcribed in a written document by someone who did not understand what it was about. The result was a text riddled with spelling and punctuation mistakes, that made most sentences odd at best, nonsensical at worse. I order to "reverse-engineer" the text before translation, I learned all about the types of MRI performed, including the procedures. I then built glossaries in both languages and used that to infer what the clinician meant.