The Linguist

The Linguist 56,4 – August/September 2017

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 16 of 35 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 17 FEATURES names. It is then necessary to adapt the English (or other source language) term in accordance with the rules of the target language. For example, in the context of a new product for enzyme replacement therapy, the English term ending with a suffix '-ase' would translate into Czech using the suffix '- áza', typical for Czech names of enzymes. In the process of identifying names for new drugs (proprietary or trade names), linguistic analysis is also conducted. A list of potential names is prepared and translators assess their suitability to be used in the target language based on considerations such as length, pronunciation, and potential negative or positive associations. Transparency for patients Patient information leaflets (PIL) also require close attention. These are inserted into drugs packaging and contain all the information about the medicine that patients need to know (the background of the drug, its components, dosing, potential complications etc). They are based on the summary of product characteristics, which provides detailed information about the drug for healthcare professionals. The wording of a PIL has to be carefully adapted so that all patients are able to understand it. Any potentially obscure terms have to be explained (e.g, 'acid reflux disease' or refluxní choroba jícnu should be translated as 'backflow of stomach juices into the oesophagus' or zpětný tok žaludečních šťáv do jícnu). The register should also be adjusted and the sentence structure simplified, so 'Product X is indicated for the treatment of condition Y and can be administered as monotherapy or in combination with Z' would be adapted for the PIL to: 'Medicine X is used for the treatment of illness Y. It can be given alone or together with medicine Z.' The translation of PILs into Czech has some language-specific aspects. The English term 'to use' (a medicinal product) is translated into Czech in two ways: užít/užívat (for drugs administered orally) and použít/používat (with the prefix po-, for drugs administered any other way). The sentence 'Use two tablets twice daily' would therefore translate as 'Užívejte dvě tablety dvakrát denně,' while 'Use product X by applying it to the affected parts of skin' would be 'Přípravek X používejte k aplikaci na postižená místa pokožky.' Furthermore, Czech differentiates between masculine and feminine genders, and this is reflected in the verb forms when addressing the reader. Suffixes for both genders have to appear in the verbs where appropriate. For example, in the sentence 'Please tell your doctor if you had these conditions in the past,' the verb would appear as Sdělte prosím lékaři, pokud jste v minulosti mě l /a tato onemocnění (where měl is a masculine and měla feminine). Well-written for wellbeing In regulatory texts the primary aspect, of course, is the content – information and data about a medicinal product. This should not mean, however, that other components (such as sentence structure and register) are overlooked or considered inferior. The sentences should flow naturally and the choice of vocabulary must respect the grammatical, syntactical and lexical rules of the target language. This can occasionally pose problems in the last stage of the approval process of the drug for the local market, or during one of the regular updates. At this point, representatives of the local regulatory body, or local affiliates of the company manufacturing the drug, check the translated/updated text against the original and make proposals for amendments. They are experts in the field of medicine, but their suggestions can be lacking from the linguistic perspective. Fierce 'discussions' (in written form) between the regulatory authority representative and translator can follow, with the authority having the final word. Translating medical texts of any kind can be very difficult. Linguists who would like to specialise in the field of regulatory affairs and clinical trials documentation should acquaint themselves with the relevant terminology and regulations applicable in their source- and target-language countries. This is a lifelong process, but it is this factor that makes medical translation rewarding and enormously interesting. MEDICAL QUESTIONS Labelling must be clear in the target language for both medical professionals and patients IMAGES: © SHUTTERSTOCK

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Linguist - The Linguist 56,4 – August/September 2017