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.
Francis Semmens is the founder of TSI and author of all blog posts with a focus on translation for clients and translators alike.