The Peculiarities of Medical Translations: Challenges

The Peculiarities of Medical Translations: Challenges

The Peculiarities of Medical Translations: Challenges

The medical translation field is highly compound, posing endless challenges of spreading new knowledge and discoveries across cultural boundaries worldwide. Nowadays, modern medical texts show an even broader range of types and forms that include – medical textbooks, medical records, prescriptions, product summaries, guidelines of instructions, trial protocols, detailed medical journals, drug ads, patient forms, etc. Technological developments and globalization have long been one of the driving forces behind the important evolution in the field of medicine and science. But today, one more thing is pushing for progress.

Scientists, physicians, and healthcare professionals are working together to answer one of the biggest global medical challenges, COVID-19 & and its mutating variants. To facilitate communication, professional medical translation services are also striving to manage the increasing demand. Although medical document translation has always had its challenges, the need to overcome these challenges is more pressing than it has ever been. Unlike any other kind of translation, medical translations do not accept mistakes. It’s not only because of the effort, money, or the legal risks we are talking about, there are human lives involved, that could be at stake.

Challenges to Medical Translations majorly comprise –


Equivalence –

Not to be understood as ‘identicalness’ or ‘sameness’, equivalence in medical translations mean ‘similar’. There are no two words in any two different languages that give the same meaning in every context. In medical translations, equivalence is about providing equal value and effect in the translations. These translations, as a whole, usually serve two major purposes.

First, provide informative and explanatory content, and second advertise companies, services, and products. You may use the Demand Generation strategies for getting conversion on advertisements. While accuracy is the benchmark, these two purposes ask for different translation methods and strategies to ensure effective communications that meet each’s requirements. An expert medical translator will adequately & stanchly conserve the originality of the source text in terms of context, structure, content, and function, without taking any liberty involved, specifically in the promotional medical context.


Terminology –

You know the World Health Organization or WHO has stated that several thousand new medical words are annually created. Being a very specific field, medical translations not only demand high-level linguistic expertise but also mastery over the terminologies of the trade, which poses another perplexing challenge. Medical texts are always full of such terminologies and when dealing with such document translations, it could be stressful and overwhelming, as precision and accuracy are highly demanded. From major to minor differences create huge differences in the meaning in medical translations like –

  • Spelling – ‘ileum’ is the last section of the small intestine whereas ‘ilium’ is a part of the pelvic bone.
  • Eponyms – these are the words derived from a name or a part of human anatomies like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
  • Abbreviations – Dr., aurist. & Acronyms – BP for Blood Pressure or CPR for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.
  • Drug Names – like Disprin is the name of a brand however the drug’s International Non-proprietary Name or INN is Aspirin.
  • New Terms – in 2020, we got familiar with terms like incubation period, self-quarantine, and many more.

Therefore, when it comes to terminologies of the medical trade it is best left with professionals. They with their expertise and years of experience can tackle the translations effectively and with precision and accuracy.


Cultural Difference –

It might be surprising to know that culture has a huge part to play in successful medical translations.  Medical document translation requires a detailed understanding of cultural differences and distinctions. A translation can be precise and correct but lacks cultural suitability, which endangers the whole project.  The culture of the community or the region for which the translation is being done has a huge impact on it.

For instance, talking about sexual health and wellness can be a lot more challenging in the Indian subcontinent or Middle Eastern countries than it is in the American or European countries. The necessity of cultural viability in document translation is also present in medical survey translations; for instance, where questions related to ethnicity, race, or, religion can be sensitive.


Target Audience – 

It is a comparatively simple point but often missed by translators. Depending on who is the target audience, a translator will decide the use of jargon and terminologies in the translations. For example, in a journal or paper strictly for medical professionals ‘myocardial infarction’ can be used but for a paper addressed to the general public ‘heart attack’ would be more viable.

Medical document translations are demanding. Challenges are unavoidable, but there are always ways to respond to them. With linguistic professionals who are subject-matter experts and with quality control in place, your medical document can be accurate, effective, and compliant.

At LanguageNoBar, we believe in the supreme role of subject-matter expertise in translations, specifically, in medical translation. Our medical translation team includes native translators and linguists with subject-matter expertise and an outstanding understanding of your target culture and audience, persistently working to deliver accurately translated documents.

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