The Celtic Tiger and Localization

A few months ago, I read an article in The New York Times on the economic woes of Ireland. Prior to 2008, Ireland had a strong economy with a low unemployment rate and was referred to as the Celtic Tiger.

The last time I was there (8 years ago), I was riding the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) from Malihide to Dublin with my daughter. As we approached Dublin, I couldn’t help but notice all the construction cranes in the city skyline, 34 in all. There was construction all over the place! Four years later, the Celtic Tiger had basically passed away. Many of those buildings are abandoned or half finished.

It has taken Ireland 3 years, a bailout from the EU and some serious belt tightening to see a glimmer of a turnaround. However, one area of the Irish economy that continues to make headway is the localization sector which employs over 15,000 people and is worth 680m Euros to the Irish economy.

Starting in the 1980’s when Ireland lured Microsoft, Apple, Dell and many other leading technology companies with an attractive tax rate, the country was established as a leading exporter of software worldwide – primarily due to the localization centers that were established within these companies and the other businesses that spun up to support them.

The first advanced degree program in localization in the world was established at the University of Limerick. The Localization Resources Center and the Center for Next Generation Localization, with over 150 researchers and funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland, are researching cutting edge technologies in localization including machine translation, voice recognition and multilingual content management.

With the overall growth projected in localization and a promise of continuing job opportunities in the sector, Ireland is actively seeking to retain their leadership position by encouraging young students to study localization in college. Let’s hope that the localization industry can lead to the rebirth of the Celtic Tiger!

Medical Translations

April 17, 2012 by Tanya Toneva · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Translation Services 

Translating medical texts, just like any other specialized translation, requires specific skills and qualifications. In this post we are going to delve a bit more into what you, as a client, should expect from a medical translator and what you need to know to ensure your medical documents are translated up to the highest standard.

Here are some important points to consider, before you decide to entrust a translator with your medical translation:

1)  Medical degree of translator and/or editor is a MUST.

Medical terminology is highly specific and complex, and as such, requires significant knowledge and experience in the medical field in order to accurately translate each term. However, while experience and industry knowledge do count, they are outstripped in importance by another factor – the translator and/or editor’s qualifications. It is absolutely imperative that the person who will be translating your medical documents, or the person who will be editing the translation, has a medical degree – M.D. or other. Any other specialized translations might not be as demanding in terms of the translator/editor’s qualifications, but when it comes to medical translations, there is simply no room for compromise. Because, no matter how good your language level or how extensive your translation experience is, if you do not understand the text you are reading, there’s no way you can translate it properly either – it’s a simple fact we are all aware of. For the sake of achieving a top accurate medical translation, the best solution is to either have your texts translated by a medical professional and edited by a linguist, or translated by a linguist and edited by a medical professional. My personal modus operandi is a slightly improved version of the latter – when translating medical texts I usually work side by side with my husband who happens to be an M.D.; and where side-by-side work is not possible due to differences in our work schedules, I would translate the text and subsequently have it edited by him by all means.

While I may be fortunate enough to enjoy the convenience of having a professional medical consultant at my disposal virtually 24/7, I realize that, in a world of ever-so-busy schedules and strict deadlines, putting together professional linguistic and medical resources can be quite cumbersome and time-consuming, not to mention a costly process for many Language Service providers – which is why not all of them offer medical translations as part of their portfolio.

2)  Literal vs. free translations

In the translation world, literal (word-for-word) and free translation are used almost inseparably. In medical translations though, the latter needs to be used extremely carefully, depending mostly on whom the translation is meant for – or the end user of the translated text. In most cases, documents such as medical reports, patient medical history, hospital discharge letters, etc. contain information which is meant for doctors use mainly – and as such, calls for “free” translation being cut down to zero. Doctors have the necessary knowledge of medical terms and do not need any additional clarifications, interpretations, not to mention unnecessary prolix wording of the translation.

We can’t just throw in any irrelevant stuff into a medical translation, just because we might think it makes it sound better in the target language – absolutely NOT. Why? Because the medical professionals who would be reading the translated document need 100% accuracy of the patient details, so that the translation can actually be of use to them. Because it is human life that is at stake here – one wrongly translated or worse yet, deliberately “embellished” for the sake of it sounding better term or sentence, and the whole diagnostic process might end up getting totally messed up – leading to possible wrong/incomplete diagnosis, wrong treatment, which in turn may result in serious medical complications and even fatal outcome for the patient.

3) Careful localization.

Most terms in contemporary medicine are derived from Greek and Latin. It is these Greek or Latin derivations namely that still form a great deal of the medical lingo used by physicians and other medical practitioners throughout the world, thus facilitating consistency in translation and localization of medical terms. This should come as no surprise for Latin-based languages, but how about non-Latin ones? Surprisingly, Latin terms for diseases, conditions, procedures, etc. are largely used even in Bulgarian – which is a Cyrillic-based language and does not normally involve usage of any Latin spelling or wording.

That being said, one might conclude localization is not that important in Medical translation, especially since Latin medical terms are universally used worldwide. However, when the end user of the translated material is a non-medical individual, localization is extremely important and necessary for the sake of getting the translation to reflect local social and cultural particularities. Such documents would be patient information leaflets (PILs) or package leaflets (PLs), Informed consent forms (ICFs), and any other medical or pharmaceutical materials, meant for patients rather than physicians. This is also where a bit more of the “free” translation is allowed – for the purposes of rendering the medical content understandable to anyone without a medical degree.

To sum it all up, as far as medical translation is concerned, translation professionals bear enormous responsibility and the importance of choosing a qualified medical translator should therefore never be underestimated.

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