;   Medical Translation Insight: Writing for translation through Simplified Technical English - ForeignExchange Translations

Writing for translationMost medical device and pharmaceutical companies do business on a global scale. Yet most of the content is authored in English.

Translation can be a slow and expensive process, especially when taking into account cultural differences that can distort the meaning behind your words. There also can be significant delays and added expense if content is changed during or after translation.

One way to streamline the translation process is through better authoring of source content. Technical English is often in a way that is difficult for users to understand.

"Writing for translation" is bandied about as the solution. It has a nice ring to it and sounds simple - just have authors keep in mind that the text will be translated, right? But judging by the fact that the problems around source text (too technical, incomprehensible, ambiguous) persist, it's apparently not so simple after all.

In fact, the now-defunct Translator's Blog decried the use of "controlled English" (thanks to Google, you can still look at the cached version). Similarly, smaller writing groups, especially at device and biotech companies, complain that solutions like acrolinx don't take into account their small staff and budget.

The good news is that there is a new option available to learn about and improve one's writing. Shufra, long a specialist in providing on-site Simplified Technical English training sessions, has just announced that it will offer two-day Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100) classes in the UK and U.S.

The training sessions will be small (5-10 participants) and offer hands-on, actionable advice. And at a cost of US$1,800 / EUR 1,300, they offer terrific value. The first sessions are planned for September 2009 in Phoenix, AZ and London, England.

Contact Shufra for more information and to register.

If you are interested in improving the authoring and translation of life science documentation, subscribe to Medical Translation Blog via email or RSS.


  1. Frans said...
    Andres, you're very right. Add to that the fact that the text volume in Simplified English is about 30% less than in standard English - so in a multilingual environment, STE pays for itself.
    Anonymous said...
    The sentence,
    "Technical English is often in a way that is difficult for users to understand." sounds awkward to the native American speaker because "is in a way" is so seldom used, and this is because "way" has so many many meanings.

    A better construction is, "Technical English often has elements that are difficult for users to understand."
    Manoj said...
    The basic idea of translation is to improve the understanding. And if the translation is done in the simplest possible language, its purpose is served. I believe, the translated content has to be as simple as possible.
    Frans said...
    Manoj, I agree. However, I would take it a step further. If the original text is made "simple", it serves its readers better as well.

    As translation should be a process where the meaning of the original text is conveyed in a different language as accurately as possible, the translation process as well as the resulting translated text will benefit from a simplified source text.

    As text is often translated into multiple languages, simplifying the source is more efficient and gives the author more control over the result in all languages.

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