The primary guideline for every translation is the exactness of the source text transfers into the target language. The difficulty of this endeavor increases when dealing with particular professional materials. Medical translation places even greater demands on the translator because errors could result in a wrong diagnosis or jeopardize a patient’s life. Therefore, the translator should follow Hippocrates’ famous advice to “Not harm!” What guidelines should be taken into account when translating these texts?
Beginning in the middle Ages, we can speak of Latin and Middle English coexisting in medical communication. This coexistence will last until the turn of the 19th century, ending Latin’s somber rule in medical teaching and writing.
This brings us to more recent times, where social and political unrest has hurt language and medical knowledge over the past two centuries, leading to significant changes in medical terminology and enveloping its classical heritage with many layers of heterogeneous novelty.
Modern Medical Translations: Key Features
Today’s medical texts come in a far wider variety of genres and formats, including textbooks, simple medical records, prescriptions, product summaries, how-to guides, clinical trial protocols, incredibly complex medical periodicals, drug advertisements, patient forms, and permission forms.
The fundamental, unavoidable tenet while translating medical materials rife with scientific and technical jargon is “thou shall grasp thy source text.”
In addition to this general principle, the underlying qualities implied by all of these content forms are style, tone, sincerity, correctness, and consistency.
For example, suppose a medical communication between an expert and lay readers, such as a doctor and patient or a medical device or drug manufacturer and an end-user. In that case, the translation must adopt a more neutral tone, use less complex language, and provide additional information to help the end-user/lay reader understand the specialized terminology.
On the other hand, clients demand that translators precisely adhere to the jargon and other scientific language demanded by the specialists at whom the medical translations are targeted, making specialization in highly scientific translation instances a need.
Challenges of Modern Medical Translation:
To translate or not to translate—that is the question in the realm of medical translation!
The precision and accuracy of the language used in connection to the context, the level of subject-matter expertise displayed by the linguist, and their awareness of what should or should not translate all determine whether a medical translation succeeds or fails.
Equivalence, readability, eponyms, acronyms, affixation, doublet, and polysemy are significant stylistic and lexical concerns that can make or break a medical translation. Together, they reflect the dangers and obstacles in medical translation.
Let’s analyze some situations special to medical translation, including the persistent problem with eponyms or the query of target-culture equivalence.
Medical eponyms are specialized terms used in medicine to describe illnesses or syndromes named after living individuals (and occasionally places or things).
According to scholarly publications like Vicent Montalt and Maria González Davies’ “Medical Translation Step by Step – Learning by Drafting” (Routledge, 2014), Basedow’s disease, Flajani’s disease, and Graves’ disease all refer to “hyperthyroidism,” while Barlow’s disease and Barlow’s syndrome are variations of the straightforward “vitamin C deficiency syndrome.”
Beyond the complex vocabulary and technicalities, accuracy and market compliance are also important considerations when it comes to the difficulties of medical translation on a global scale. This goes beyond the strict policy of following the source and not deviating too much from the text, and it is also subject to new, much stricter rules and regulations. To prevent mistranslations, it’s also critical to pay attention to terminology equivalence.
How do we solve these problems?
The interpreter should frequently use medical dictionaries and seek advice from experts. Only then will he be able to translate particular medical jargon appropriately.
Extreme care must be taken while translating an acronym because they can alter meaning based on the type of material.
To resolve this issue, the translator must consider the surrounding context and search for transcription in papers from a related field. It is also essential to consider the medical specialty that focuses on the subject.
Often the translator deals with handwritten texts. Sometimes doctors do not differ in the correctness of handwriting. If the translator can’t deal with this, the ideal is to contact the specialist who writes the prescription.
Previously utilized words can take on a new meaning. New medicines are emerging. Therefore, the translator needs to be aware of medical news. He must therefore improve his knowledge in this area, for example, by subscribing to journals on relevant topics.
It’s complicated because many texts have not only general medical subjects but are highly specialized. For example, not everyone with a medical background will understand the material on virology. LST is the best platform to ensure exceptional medical translation services.