Medical interpreters critical in health care (New York, U.S.)

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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 16:40
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Machine translation Oct 22, 2010

Under rising popularity of machine translation (even via certain web browsers), can medical interpretation be automated (to restrict escalating costs)? Do we have special MT customized for medical jargons?

Soonthon Lupkitaro


 

Michael Barnett
Local time: 05:40
English
+ ...
Medical jargon not needed in interpreting Oct 22, 2010

Unlike medical translation which requires knowledge of the jargon, the idiom and the science, interpretation between doctor and patient requires none of that because the doctor would normally use everyday language and register when speaking to the patient, who is assumed to have no specialized knowledge.

I have often used Google Translate right off the web site to overcome language barriers, with outstanding results.

Michael


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:40
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Medical jargon is needed in interpreting Oct 22, 2010

Well, much as I respect Michael Barnett, I have to take issue here. I have been a medical interpreter for the NHS in the UK for several years now, and I think you do need to know some medical jargon to interpret between doctor, nurse, midwife, psychologist, gynaecologist and patient. I am constantly being confronted by medical jargon in my job. I think a medical interpreter does need to have a more in-depth knowledge of medical terminology, I don't see how machine translation can work in this context. In fact I find it a worrying phenomenon.

Perhaps GPs talk "more simply" to patients, but in my experience hospital doctors/consultants are different! When talking about intricate medical issues, how can the physician always "talk down" to the patient?


And Michael, interpreting is just as demanding and intricate as translation!!

Also, who is going to pay the costs for serious errors in machine translation - just take a look at instruction manuals for electrical devices, etc. etc.
Liz Askew

[Edited at 2010-10-22 15:14 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-10-22 15:16 GMT]


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:40
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Google translates Oct 22, 2010

Hello again
How does google translate work if you just copy in a few paragraphs of medical French and ask it to translate this into English?
I would love to see the results....certainly the odd short sentence works quite well (I have just tried it for the first time!), but I wonder how this would work with an entire text. It would also be interesting to have some simple GP speak to a non-English patient translated and see what comes up on Google Translates. I dread to think.... How can a linguist who has trained since the age of 11, and is still learning, be replaced by a machine??
The mind boggles.

[Edited at 2010-10-22 15:26 GMT]


 

Michael Barnett
Local time: 05:40
English
+ ...
Legitimate difference of opinion Oct 23, 2010

One of the skills of family medicine is learning to speak to patients with words they understand.
My success with Google Translate is really amazing.

I wonder how well your specialists communicate with their English speaking patients.


 

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:40
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Legitimate difference of opinion - I agree Oct 24, 2010

Hi

Yes, this is very true, much of our opinions are based on our own experiences, so that is all I can go by. Judging from my experience as an occasional interpreter for specialists in the NHS hospitals in the UK, there doesn't tend to be a problem, because they have a pretty knowledgeable interpreter there, and if there is a problem in understanding (on anybody's part, i.e. interpreter, patient, or physician) then it is the interpreter's duty and job to point it out so there are as few misunderstandings as possible. IMHO machine translation would not provide this service. Having said that, it is never a question of people but money, so maybe we do have to bow to economics, but not give up our own personal opinions and beliefs.
Cheers!


 

Michael Barnett
Local time: 05:40
English
+ ...
Example of Google medical interpretation Oct 24, 2010

Here is an example of the Google Translate machine interpretation of a typical medical examination question for a patient with congestive heart failure.

Medicalese: Have you ever had paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, orthopnea or pedal edema?

Same question asked in everyday English by most physicians who expect to get a meaningful reply:

Have you ever awoken from sleep gasping for air?
Do you use more than one pillow at night in order to breathe better while you sleep?
Do you have swelling of the feet or ankles?

Same question asked in French, based on the “plain English” form. I have selected French because it is my Proz.com language pair:

Avez-vous déjà réveillé de son sommeil à bout de souffle?
Avez-vous utiliser plus d'un oreiller, la nuit, afin de mieux respirer pendant votre sommeil?
Avez-vous une enflure des pieds ou des chevilles?

Same question asked in Korean, based on the “plain English” form. I have selected Korean and Mandarin as they represent my most common translation challenges. All translations provided by Google in real time at no cost: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the Korean and Mandarin, but my patients sure seem to understand it.

혹시 숨을 헐떡이고 수면에서 awoken 적이 있습니까?
당신이자는 동안 숨을 잘하기 위해서는 밤에 하나 이상의 베개를 사용하고 계십니까?
당신은 피트 또는 발목의 붓기가 있나요?

Same question asked in Mandarin, based on the “plain English” form:

您是否使用多個枕頭,以便在夜間睡眠時呼吸更好?
你有腫脹的腳或腳踝?


 

Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 16:40
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Machine translation algorithm Oct 25, 2010

I understand that the Google Machine Translation algorithm is based on statistics (frequencies) of word being used. This limits accuracy for medical terms since daily words cannot be very medical glossaries. In other MTs available on market, option for medical terms can be selected. Google Translate is free of charge: I never expect Google would ever develop a specialized free translation segmentation service.

With regard to Chinese and Korean translations above, Google also give 'non-medical' terms to better communicate with patients.

In my idea, I would use MT available on sale rather than Google Translate for my medical translation these days.

Soonthon Lupkitaro


 


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Medical interpreters critical in health care (New York, U.S.)

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