If you don’t work in medicine, you probably don’t know the exact term to use when describing the specific instrument needed to perform a certain step of a complicated procedure. There are more than ten thousand tools and instruments in the medical field, and hundreds more are being created and introduced every year. Consider the following short list of medical tool terms:
If all of this isn’t already making your head spin, let’s ask the real question: How do we deal with these extremely complicated and technical terms in foreign languages? More often than not, in many languages there are no official translations for a large majority of these instruments.
So, how do you deal with this language barrier?
When in doubt, an inexperienced translator or one who isn’t familiar with the industry might consult a medical dictionary in his or her native language, only to find that there is no suitable word. Without a grasp of exactly what he or she is translating, it may be impossible to accurately convey the meaning and purpose of the word at hand.
In an even worse scenario, he or she might use a translation that is just plain wrong. For example, there is a dental tool called a “burnisher” that’s used for smoothing amalgam, and looks like a small metal pick.
However, if a translator looks for the same word in a basic dictionary, a “burnisher” might look like a huge vaccum cleaner. Try fitting that into somebody’s mouth!
Enter the term “transcreation,” whereby translators take it upon themselves to invent a word that adapts meaning and intent when no other source is available. This approach might work in marketing or advertising, but not necessarily in medical or technical situations where precision is crucial.
The only suitable solution to translating these complex and particular terms is to utilize the skills of a translator who is a tried-and-true expert in the topic at hand. When the language is this complex, and the stakes involve discerning the correct tool for an important procedure on a patient, it’s simply too high of a risk to go to someone who relies on a dictionary. In critical situations like these, it is imperative to trust your source.
At TSI, we work with reliable, expert translators with deep knowledge of, and background in, specific industries. We work closely with our clients to understand the unique needs, concerns, and scope of a job, and then go through a meticulous vetting process to identify the best translator for it. We pride ourselves in delivering perfection to our clients, and we have done so for significant companies in many specialized industries, including healthcare, finance, heavy machinery, hospitality, petroleum, and beyond, for over 28 years.
Who is doing your translations? Contact us to discuss your next translation project. Trust TSI.
Technical translations are all around us- from instruction manuals on your new video camera, to your pots and pans you purchased at your local cooking store. They also exists on a B2B level for employees and workers to build equipment properly. Every now and then we receive the following question from our clients, “Are technical documents the most difficult to translate?” The answer surprisingly, is no and yes. Let’s look at the “no” first.
Most of the technical translations that we provide deal with the petrochemical industry, automotive equipment, compressors, valves, electrical components, pumps and a wide variety of specialized tools. The reason I say “no” is because the writing for these projects, such as instruction, assembly, operating and repair manuals, is very straightforward. There’s no creative or expressive writing involved. There’s only one way to assemble an engine or operate a centrifugal pump or repair a broken compressor, etc. The writing is almost always direct and precise.
The translators knowing the equipment of course, do not have to question the author of the documents as to their intent, unless, that is, they find a mistake, which does happen on rare occasions. Creative writing and advertising, on the other hand, can present problems. Imagine translating the Red Bull ad “It Gives you Wiiiings!” or Typhoo’s (a brand of tea) “You only Get an ‘OO’ With Typhoo”. These are extreme examples, but nonetheless we have to deal with similar writing on a daily basis.
The reason I say “yes” to technical documents being the most difficult to translate is due to the complexity of the equipment. Imagine trying to translate an assembly and repair manual for the equipment shown below.
The translator has to understand the names of each of the parts, as well as how they function and interact with each other. It’s not the language that is difficult; it’s the machinery itself. This is why we only use translators who are engineers and experts in the specific industries involved. We wouldn’t use an automotive expert to translate a reciprocal compressor or an electrical engineer to translate an installation manual for an industrial sewage pump. For the best results, all of the pieces have to fit together like a complex puzzle. It’s teamwork with each person working in synchronicity with each other.
After a quarter century in the translation business, our team and procedure for technical translations has been tweaked and refined to near perfection.
If you’re in need of technical translations, feel free to reach out for a consultation or quote. We are happy to describe the process in further detail to help make the process easier for you and your business.
Francis Semmens is the founder of TSI and author of all blog posts with a focus on translation for clients and translators alike.