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Medical translation? Yes, please

Medical translation? Yes, pleaseGuest article:
By Roomy Naqvy
Gujarati-English-Hindi translator
Contact him via proz.com and the ATA

In response to B.J. Epstein's post on why she doesn't take on medical translation assignments, I would like to post some of my own, very positive experiences in this field.

I started out as a literary translator, got published, got accolades, then translated lots of cuisine texts and then suddenly found myself translating medical texts. I never thought it was forbidding. I have translated a large number of medical texts for the last few years.

Once I was translating a numbered list from English into Gujarati, where the English read, "Have you had a history of the following: heart attack, cardiac arrest?" I had seven Gujarati dictionaries at my house, and still I was stumped. Gujarati dictionaries define both as "attack on the heart" but "cardiac arrest" is different. I struggled for an hour and then translated "cardiac arrest" as "the stoppage of the heart".

In other instances, sometimes, when I edit Hindi translations, many translators use the word for stomach while describing the abdomen, primarily because Indians tend to be a conservative culture, and they use "body" words infrequently.

I find these examples fascinating. To me, they represent a challenge which is similar to translating literary or cuisine texts and keep me enjoying medical translation work.


  1. Paulina said...
    What I like most about medical translations is all the things I learn while doing them. Some research is obligatory for a good, informed translation, which gives me excuse to surf the net, finding out about various health conditions and how they are treated.
    cgtradmed said...
    What I love about medical translation, particularly in the clinical medicine and pharmacology, is the feeling of being helpful.

    Indeed the medical translator is usefull to an impressive number of people, patients, physicians, etc.

    To tell the truth, what could they do without us ?

    Research would not make the huge advances we are seeing today, patients could not benefit from new molecules, at least not in as short a delay after discovery as they can today, physicians could not exchange ideas so easily, etc.

    We are the linchpint, the strong link in the chain of communication within the health and research worlds.

    I think it is high time we all became aware of this fact.

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