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Medical translation

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Lisa Jian

on 26 November 2013

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Transcript of Medical translation

Medical translation
Medical translation
A humorous interpretation
of common expressions
in biomedical research genres
by Mattews et al:

Distinguishing features of medical translation
Medical specialties
Comprehension of medical notions
Medical terminology
Medical communication purposes
Medical genres
Medical information sources
Quality of medical texts
Medical ethics and responsiblities
Different types of medical texts
Steps in translation process

What are the distinguishing features of
medical translation?
Different types of medical texts.
Steps in medical translation process.
Detecting and solving translation problems.

Medical specialties
Medical translation involves the communication of knowledge in various specialties including:
Medical Ethics
Comprehension of medical notions
Factual comprehension is a key element in any translation process.
literary translators' priority: register, rhythm, puns, cultural references
medical translators' priority: accuracy
Gaps in the translator's medical knowledge of different specialties lead to comprehension problems.
Such problems can be overcome with strategies for acquiring medical knowledge
Medical terminology
More than half of the time in the translation process is invested in detecting and solving terminological problems
Terms include those for anatomical parts, diseases, syndromes, drugs, medical equipment, and so forth.
Terminological difficulties:
register mismatches

Ways to tackle the problems:
understand the mechanisms of terminologization
e.g. Term=concept+denomination
get familiar with Greek and Latin basis of medical terms
e.g. Etymological forms as roots, prefixes and suffixes like
-itis (inflammation): bronchitis,arthritis, arteritis
hepat- (liver): hepatitis, hepatectomy
check the classification systems created by the official organizations
e.g. http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/

Medical communicative purposes
The range of communicative purposes for medical translation is very broad. Among the main communicative functions are:
the dissemination of biomedical research among specialists
the dissemination of research in the mass media
the education of health professionals at universities
the approval of new drugs
the regulation of all kinds of health products
the advertising of health products and services
the communication in hospitals and other health centres
the campaigns carried out by health institutions in the national and international contexts, such as WHO
Medical genres
Now that there are so many communicative purposes for medical texts, medical translation covers a wide spectrum of genres:
research articles published in highly specialized journals
clinical guides for physician
text books for university students
patient information brochures
press releases
TV documentaries about health
It is worth mentioning that medical translation is not restricted to highly specialized genres but also includes more general ones.
Our knowledge about medical genres help us decide our target text drafting methodologies and guide our translation process.
Quality of medical texts
When translating literary works, the authors are usually skilled writers.
In terms medical texts, medical authors are usually not professional writers, which means sometimes translators have to cope with poor quality source texts.
As a result of this, translators should not always rely on the quality of the ST when taking decisions about the coherence
and style of the TT.
Medical translation is often affected by medical ethics and responsibilities.
Ethical norms in medicine and medical translation are:
1. Accuracy and validity of information
2. Confidentiality
3. Promote understanding and empathy towards disabled people, patients' different sensitivities and etc.
Priorities differ in different genres and therefore demand different skills from the translators.
From both communicative purposes and a formal point of view, target genre knowledge and skills are key elements for us to decide our translation strategies, procedures and other choices.
2. How
are they different-
Specialised VS Popular; Formal VS Informal
Oral VS Written...
3. What
Communicative purpose; structure; types of information contained; readers' expectations; style; tenor; phraseology,
Different types of medical texts
1. Fact Sheet for Patients (FSP)

- Also referred to as "patient leaflet", "patient information
brochure" and "patient brochure".

- Issued by health organisations: a local, national or international
governmental body; a patients' association; a professional
association, a hospital, a research institute, etc.

- Intended to provide patients with relevant information about a
particular disease or condition: symptoms, causes, treatment,
and medicine or diagnostic procedure.

- Authors: normally health professionals

- Feature: present info in an easy-to-read and concise way.

- Terminology: medical terms in FSPs are accompanied by
explanations (in brackets or directly explained in the main body)
Different types of medical texts
2. Informed consent (IC)

- Two purposes:
to express the patient's written consent to a surgical or medical
procedure or other treatment, after the physician has explained the
potential benefits and risks and alternative treatment.
required for participation in clinical studies.

- Requirement:
If written in a language too technical or containing jargon, it may be incomprehensible and intimidating for a patient or participant. Thus, we should make every effort by using language appropriately for intended readers. (use plain language when possible)

- Structure:
First part. Informative details about the procedure to be carried out.
Second part. Consent (authorisation).
3. Patient information leaflet (PIL)

- Also referred to as "package insert", "information leaflet", "consumer medicine information", "patient package insert".

- Document enclosed in the sales package of a medicinal product.

- Purpose:
To ensure the safety and efficacy of taking specific medicine.

- Requirements:
(EU) As is regulated by the European Commission, the content of PIL must be consistent with the SPC but in a wording that can be easily understood by a non-professionals.
(General) Accuracy and clarity must be the main focus, especially the section devoted to posology and method of administration.
Besides, owing to marketing strategies, multinational companies sometimes sell their products with different trade names in different countries. Therefore, translators should check whether the medicine is commercialized with the same trade name in the target marketplace.
Different types of medical texts
Different types of medical texts
4. Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC)

- One of the documents attached to every application for marketing authorization.

- Purposes:
Summarizes the main characteristics of a medicinal product from different points of view: pharmacological, chemical, pharmaceutical, toxicological, and so forth.
Provides basic info for health professionals on how to use the product saftely and effectively.

- SPCs give rise to PILs.

Different types of medical texts
5. Case Report (CR)

- Also known as "clinical case reports", "case studies", "clinical cases" or "case histories" depending on the research journals where they are published, or the educational or clinical contexts they are used in.

- Typically written by a clinician to describe and discuss an instance of a disease in a single patient.

- Communicative purposes:
share relevant clinical information with other clinicians
stimulate further research in a particular field
teach medical students how to approach complex clinical practice in an efficient way.

- Features:
With little argumentation or instruction;
Facts are narrated and objects described so that the reader can easily form a mental image of them and understand them.
Each of the steps involves different tasks and requires different skills that we need to develop and improve as we get more involved in the profession.
Depending on the assignment, in professional practice medical translators will go through mainly these steps or some of them:
1. Analyzing the needs of clients and planning the project
If possible, discuss the specifics of the project with the client
Otherwise, contact with experts in this field or gather your own info on the subject matter.
2. Reading and understanding the source text
- Read the ST thoroughly and have an adequate understanding of it
comprehension of particular term (not enough)
networks and hierarchies of terms
conceptual links between paragraphs and sections
descriptive, narrative and argumentative structures
overall cause and effect relationship
3. Compiling a glossary
- Glossaries are to ensure the terminology is consistent:
within a given assignment
with clients' norms and preferences
- Not "disposable". Glossaries should be compiled in a way that will allow us to retrieve and use those terms and definitions
again in the future.
4. Drafting the target text
In a first draft, it is important to focus attention on the two most basic aspects of text production: structure and contents.
- structure of the target text (which may or may not coincide with that of ST): sections, subsections, moves, flow of information, etc.
- factual information the structure should contain.

In this step, main focus is on micro-elements such as links between sentenc, word order, terminological choices, etc.
5. Revising and editing the TT
- conceptual completeness
- accuracy
- clarity
- cohesion
- syntax
- style
- grammar
- spelling
- punctuation
-consistency (in the use of ters, abbreviations, numbers, proper names, etc.)
6. Proofreading
Revise and edit the TT against the ST and on its own.
Produce a document that should read as an autonomous and finished text.
Make sure that the text reads well and pay special attention to punctuation, spelling, quantities, numerical expressions and so forth.

Detecting and solving translation problems
Different types of medical texts
Different types of medical texts
Different types of medical texts
6. Clinical guidelines (CG)
- Also known as "clinical practice guidelines" and "practice guidelines".
- Clinical guidelines are meant to transfer relevant biomedical research to the clinic. They are systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances.
- Author: teams of experts, researchers
Target readers: experts, practitioners.
- Writing of CG is not regulated by strict norms,but there are standardization bodies and international project that appraise clinical guidelines.
e.g. the Guidelines International Network
the AGREE Collaboration (14 languages)
- Examples of this genre:

Good medical translation can be done by both medical professionals and medically knowledgeable linguists.
But in both cases, a love for language, a willingness to pursue arcane terminology, and caring enough to get it exactly right are the keys to true success.
—— Marla O'Neill

7. Review Article (RA)
- Purposes:
Provide clinicians, physicians and students the literature for reliable guidance in practice.
Tell investigators where their research field stands on a particular problem and suggest what directions new research should take.
- Authors: experts at the cutting edge in a particular field
- Examples
8. Standard Operating procedure (SOP)
- SOPs are written descriptions and instructions used in many professional practices to ensure the quality of products and processes and compliance with the current regulations.
- Content: routine or repetitive tasks carried out
- Features: highly specialised and formal
- Requirements:
easy to read
expressed simply and concisely
unambiguous, explicit and not excessively complex
terminology must be consistent within the organization
- Examples:
1. develop text comprehension strategies

2. metaphor translation

3. seek help from information resources

Developing text comprehension strategies
In medical translation, text comprehension is often a non-linear and complex process. We have to be either very familiar with the topic and the genre of the text or able to work through it in a circular way integrating macro- and micro elements.
A three-step methodology for understanding the ST. (it can be used as a starting point and adapted to your personal style and to the needs of each assignment.)
1. Getting the gist of the source text
2. Concentrating on individual items
3. Using fix-up strategies
by using different using speed
by using text mapping or other outlining and summarizing methods
using etymological information
paraphrasing implicit meaning
turning nominalizations into full sentences
turning passive sentences into active sentences.
Making word substitutions where necessary.
Exploring links between and within sentences. (cause and effect, implicit connections to be added in TT)
Once we recognize we are stuck, what can we do?
- Ignore problems and continue to read, hoping the following text will clarify what we don't understand.
- Form a tentative hypothesis based on information in the text and then read on to confirm or revise the hypothesis.
- Look back or reread the previous sentence.
- Stop and think about the meaning of the previously read material and reread it in an attempt to fit it into the bigger picture.
- Seek help from resources such as dictionaries, reference materials and knowledgeable people.
Metaphor translation
Medical information and resources
Knowledge on body systems.
Starting up your own medical translation library
Online medical dictionaries

Online Medical Dictionary
Medterms Medical Dictionary
Surgical Medical Word Glossary
Medline Plus Medical Dictionary
Metaphors are very common in medical texts. They tend to present abstraction and fuzziness.
e.g. scarlet fever
German measles
catch your breath
yellow fever
feel in hell/heaven
invasive procedure
Common metaphors and idioms in medicine can be related to war, sports, colours, spring, youth, animals, food, hunting, people's names and other concets.
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