The Linguist

The Linguist 55,3

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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10 The Linguist Vol/55 No/3 2016 Carine Toucand on false friends, differences in concepts and practice, difficult working conditions – and when not to translate – in the field of medical translation M edical translation branches out into many subfields, each with its own specific difficulties. Some texts will target the general public and require little specialised terminology (e.g awareness campaigns, patient information leaflets and medical device user manuals); others will target a more specialised readership (such as operating techniques, patents, clinical trial protocols and medical device sales documentation). The translation itself can present various difficulties, from terminological issues to technical constraints to requirements imposed by the client that are complex to fit into the target text. In this article, I will explore terminology issues, especially culture-bound terms, from English into French (my main working languages). Reliable sources of bilingual and monolingual medical terminology for my language pair are easy to find, and include TermSciences, CiSMeF, MedRa and Vidal, to name but a few. 1 However, the translation of some terms will still be context dependent (i.e. culture-bound terms), and sometimes not translating can be the best option. The medical profession in France is often more familiar with the English term than with the French one. So spending hours researching a French equivalent can, sadly, be a waste of time from the reader's point of view. For example, when translating medical device user manuals, it is often best to keep some terms in English, especially if the French translation will otherwise be quite a bit longer. The manuals also have to correspond to what the user sees on the machine, where the number of characters that can be used is limited, hence the need to keep the English both on the machine and in the manual. Technical constraints have to be taken into account and, when translating the manual for a machine, it is always best to clarify which terms will need to stay in English and which need to be translated. Having access to screenshots helps. Questionnaires and false friends In the medical/pharmaceutical industry, given the lengthy and expensive process involved in developing a new medicine or device, questionnaires aimed at professionals and patients are widely used to gauge how these new products are received and how they could be improved to solve unmet needs. These questionnaires are translated into many languages and sent across markets. One of the first things health care professionals (HCPs) will often be asked is whether they practise in a particular type of setting or have a particular seniority level. In both directions, there are two false friends that are usually difficult to translate: 'consultant' and 'clinic'. The term 'consultant' is mainly used in British English and could easily be translated Getting medical IMAGES: © SHUTTERSTOCK

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