Let’s start understanding with some questions. How hard it is to translate in specific fields? How much does one need to work to have experience, to be a specialist translator in those fields? Can a translator specialize in every field? What about a translation company?

Translation in all kinds of specific fields are hard, but medical translation is one of the hardest. Medical translation, which requires more than a standard translation process, concerns not only businesses and their clients but also professionals who work to improve the health and lives of people. Because medical translation allows not only medical information but also new discoveries to spread. For this reason, it is of vital importance. The fact that many pioneer and experimental studies has been translated into English and got published without losing time during covid-19 pandemic crisis is one of the indicators of this.

In addition to this, medical translation is also used in providing health service to minorities and foreigners. Medical translation is crucial for these aspects and it bears a wide variety of hardships for the translator at the same time. The heaviness of medical terminology, the uniqueness of medical language are one of the main details which make the translator’s job difficult. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wrong at all to say that not every translator can perform medical translation. Only a translator who is specialized in the field and who has knowledge about medical sector and language can come through this work.

The Place of Medical Translation in the Globalizing World

Globalization does not only contain the free circulation of goods or capital. Global world means a form of living in which also people can migrate without sticking to borders and can live wherever they want. This situation increases the importance of medical translation, people who make medical translations, and translation companies. For example, there are hundred millions of people who live in Europe and United States that don’t know the local languages and cannot express themselves in another language besides their native language. People from different religions, languages and cultures live together. Doctors also treat people who doesn’t have speaking skills or has limited knowledge in the language in which the health service is provided. This is where we see the importance of medical translation. Without translation, patients cannot understand their diagnosis and treatment methods. They cannot follow doctor’s instructions. These kind of situations are important obstacles for patients in regaining their health as soon as possible.

Difficulties of Medical Translation

  • The difficulty of medical translation is in the language that is used. Medical terminology, medicines, the medical condition of patients and diseases that affect them are very specific. The words that are used in this sector are specific to the sector. Understanding these words that are not used frequently outside of the sector requires a great deal of specialty and experience.
  • Medical translation covers a wide variety of fields. Just like medical doctors have their own field of specializations, medical translators have different fields of specializations as well.
  • The obligation to apply numerous control processes like editing, proofreading, LQA (linguistic quality assurance), ICR (in-country review), ICRI (the control and implementation of corrections after in-country review), etc. and to manage this work traffic in the right and reliable way is not an easy job. The task of determining and applying these control points according to the type of the medical device or study can be performed by compatible works between translation companies and their clients.
  • One of the important difficulties of medical translation is that it has a large variety of eponyms. In this context, eponym is naming a disease after a real or an imaginary person. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Behcet’s disease, Fallopian tubes, Jefferson fracture are the examples of the mentioned eponyms. Equivalents of these eponyms can be different words in the target language. For example, Fallopian tubes are known as Eileiter in German. At this point, the translator has to have the command of both languages.