How to translate side effects in an informed consent form
Thread poster: Eyal Sherf

Eyal Sherf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:03
Arabic to English
+ ...
Jul 21, 2011

I realize that in Arabic most ailments are described "literally", and my dilemma is whether in translation I should use the "professional" term for that ailment, or translate literally. Again, the context is a paragraph in a clinical trial informed consent document, whereby the side effects of the experimental drug are described. Of the eight lines, I offer some highlights below. What are your opinions about this?

Thank you.

الم العضلات - myalgia (rather than "muscle pain"?)

زيادة الميل نحو النزيف - bleeding diathesis (rather than "increased tendency towards bleeding"?)

التهاب لمعدة - gastritis (rather than "stomach inflammation")?

الم الاذنين - otalgia (rather than "ear pain")


Abdallah Ali  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:03
Member (2006)
English to Arabic
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Target audience Jul 21, 2011

Hello Ethan,

Thanks for sharing this. I believe it all depends on your target audience whether they have technical/non-technical background. If it is a form for patients, carers, parents/guardians it could be simplified for the sake of conveying the message. It could be the opposite if you are targeting GPs, nurses, medical staff, etc., who have the medical/technical background.

It applies to English too. You would find myalgia or muscular pain or tenderness, and otalgia or earache, for example.

In Arabic too, there could be technical and non-technical terms referring to the same condition. For example, bleeding diathesis is translated into زيادة الميل نحو النزيف in the text you have (I can't tell how accurate this translation is) but the Unified Medical Dictionary translates it as أُهْبَةٌ نَزْفِيَّة, which can be too technical for native speakers of Arabic!

I hope this helps.



Eyal Sherf  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:03
Arabic to English
+ ...
Thanks. Jul 24, 2011

Dear Abdallah,

Thank you for taking the time to reply in such detail. I appreciate it very much.

In a previous assignment, I actually opted to translate a term like استئصال الكتلة as "removal of the lump", but the instructor said that "lumpectomy" would have been a better choice ("more commonly known", was the comment). I translated استئصال الثدي as "removal of the breast" rather than "mastectomy". I had initially chose the two more "idiomatic" terms, then changed to those phrases, and so I will opt to go for the medical terms in this current assignment (even though it does look like it's for patients, not doctors). It seems like there are stock, standard phrases and so that may mean that the medical terms are the ones that should appear.
We'll see what happens....

Again - much thanks.


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How to translate side effects in an informed consent form

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