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Should unqualified translators be permitted to translate medical/healthcare documents?
Autor de la hebra: Cathy McCormick

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia y Herzegovina
Local time: 18:54
inglés al croata
+ ...
The time, availability? Jun 6, 2018

Cathy McCormick wrote:

Kay Denney wrote:

Cathy McCormick wrote:

Do any of you think it really important that translators have some sort of a relevant degree or is experience all that matters?


If they cannot start translating medical documents, however will they gain experience?


This is something that I have been battling for a while now and something I frequently come across. It is difficult for new translators to gain any experience in their desired field nowadays. How is a translator able to gain experience if they aren't provided a chance to do the work in the first place? It's not unusual for companies to ask that a translator have 5 years or more of experience when it comes to medical translations, but how do you gain such experience if the bar is set so high? Translators who are only just starting out in their freelance career struggle to gain the experience they need. Having a degree is all well and good (I should know) but overall I think it's experience that matters most. New translators should be given a chance to prove themselves in their desired field.

As a PM, I used to outsource systematically to people with some kind of medical training. The translation was then proofread by a translator, who would then polish up the style while preserving the terminology.


Does that not mean then that there is more work for the proofreader? A doctor may indeed know the terminology but would not necessarily understand the makeup of a translation.


I thought doctor was too busy treating people, working in a lab, or inventing new drugs in research hospital? Have they spent half of their lives in medical training to end up working in translation? Or maybe I'm missing something here?


 

Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 17:54
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
Desperate questions Jun 6, 2018

I'm sure we have all seen, in Kudoz, desperate questions from non-specialists in our fields who don't even understand the basic terminology. I'm always concerned that such people, who (it's evident) are out of their depth, and yet are entrusted with translation jobs they're clearly incapable of doing. Perhaps they were just the cheapest, and/or perhaps the agency that hired them can't tell the difference between competent and incompetent.


[Edited at 2018-06-06 09:31 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia y Herzegovina
Local time: 18:54
inglés al croata
+ ...
Exactely. Jun 6, 2018

That's why you have an opportunity to demonstrate your competence in your line of work (in practice) where it will probably be evident. (rather than demonstrating it in translation, if you have doubts about recognition of your competence).

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 18:54
alemán al inglés
What is easier or, alternatively, more plausible? Jun 6, 2018

Like most of the people here, I have a vested interested in my clients assumptions and feelings about this issue, but I'll try to be objective.

It seems important to start out with a fair comparison: I think most of us could agree that neither someone fresh out of a translation program with no relevant professional or educational experience in medicine nor a bilingual doctor with zero translation experience or training could produce an adequate translation under real-world condition
... See more
Like most of the people here, I have a vested interested in my clients assumptions and feelings about this issue, but I'll try to be objective.

It seems important to start out with a fair comparison: I think most of us could agree that neither someone fresh out of a translation program with no relevant professional or educational experience in medicine nor a bilingual doctor with zero translation experience or training could produce an adequate translation under real-world conditions.

Could we also agree that, in the real world, some translators (by education) without formal credentials in medicine certainly do produce very good medical translations and that some medical professionals (by education) without formal credentials in translation produce very good medical translations?

Now, personally, I think it's harder to become truly fluent in bilingual/bicultural Medicalese than to truly grasp and become highly adept at utilizing the the theories, tools and tricks of translation, so I would rather see someone invest the limited resource of their time accordingly. I also think it is important to specialize in order to gather translation experience: If someone only spends 25% of their time translating in a given field, then they will need three (or four) years to gather the field-specific experience of someone doing 75% (or 100%) of their work translating in that field. On the other hand, this opinion corresponds very conveniently with my self-interest, so I suppose other people may find it less convincing.

Maybe the real question is which of these seems closer to the truth:
(1) Is going to a translator without subject-matter credentials like going to a general practitioner for an appendectomy?
(2) Is going to someone with subject-matter credentials but without translation credentials like going to a witch-doctor or faith healer for an appendectomy?
Collapse


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia y Herzegovina
Local time: 18:54
inglés al croata
+ ...
Doctors that I personally know... Jun 6, 2018

are so busy (whether they work in research or in hospital or teaching at medical schools) - day/night shifts at hospitals, the little time they have left they are trying to spend with their kids and family. I can't imagine them having even a little time for translation or rather I can't imagine how or why a doctor would be available for translation - they would have to be out of work or for some reason suspended from work.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 18:54
español al inglés
+ ...
My 2 cents Jun 6, 2018

So many comments, TLDR, but 2 questions spring to mind.

1.- "Qualified" by whom, and how?
2.- "Ditto "permitted"...

In my case, I have no specific medical education or medical translation training, but have successfully translated published works and other documents and reports, etc. in medicine and related fields. However, I can't speak for anyone else.


 

Yuri Radcev  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:54
Miembro 2012
inglés al ruso
+ ...
Wrong assumption. Catastrofic one. Jun 6, 2018

Christine Andersen wrote:

If a doctor can do it, so can a translator.


How very wrong. If a translator simply can not understand what is going on? Most of the "pure translators" who take part in KUDOz discussions regarding medicine show, to my regret, lack og understanding. And somebody's life is at stake.


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungría
Local time: 18:54
inglés al húngaro
+ ...
It depends on the person Jun 6, 2018

Yuri Radcev wrote:

Christine Andersen wrote:

If a doctor can do it, so can a translator.


How very wrong. If a translator simply can not understand what is going on? Most of the "pure translators" who take part in KUDOz discussions regarding medicine show, to my regret, lack og understanding. And somebody's life is at stake.


Hi Yuri,

Unfortunately the opposite can be also true and there are many examples of that. In case of complex sentences you need to know grammar and word order perfectly to understand what refers to what etc. A physician diploma will not help you in that. Hungarian grammar is very different from English grammar. How many times I have seen that due to not knowing grammar whole sentences were so mistranslated that the opposite meaning was written in pharmaceutical texts. It also happened that I read perfect sentences, both medically and grammatically, but when I checked the source text I was shocked, because the source text was different. No, it was not a CAT alignment or MT, it was done by a human medical professional who was doing translation in his/her spare time. She/he didn't know that we cannot alter the source text, there were omissions, added sentence parts. So basically the person made a kind of medical writing rather than translation.
You also need to be linguistically creative when you meet brand new terms that don't have correct translations and you have to find a short and accurate term in your target language.

So I think you have to be a very good translator (linguist) + expert in medical translation.
Speaking a foreign language and being a physician will not make anyone a perfect medical translator.
No matter how perfect physician is someone (in practice), she/he can't be a good medical translator, if he/she lacks of linguistic and translation skills... and of course a lot of translation experience.

Bests,
Katalin



[Edited at 2018-06-06 19:40 GMT]


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 10:54
Miembro 2006
noruego al inglés
+ ...
A different question Jun 6, 2018

The document is about treating diabetes. Who is the better translator?
a) a dermatologist
b) a translator with experience translating texts about diabetes


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia y Herzegovina
Local time: 18:54
inglés al croata
+ ...
Too many hypothetical questions. Jun 6, 2018

Michele Fauble wrote:

The document is about treating diabetes. Who is the better translator?
a) a dermatologist
b) a translator with experience translating texts about diabetes





I fail to understand why people on this topic keep asking these hypothetical questions which one is better a) or b). This is not Olympics. Dermatologist should have a very good insight into diabetes as diabetic people may experience skin symptoms and derma/endocrinology symptoms may overlap. It's not as simple as a) or b).

The b) person will most likely be available while dermatologist is most certainly busy with practice and discussing innovative treatments with other dermatologists.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Francia
Local time: 18:54
Miembro 2018
francés al inglés
No more work than for other fields Jun 6, 2018

Cathy McCormick wrote:

Kay Denney wrote:

As a PM, I used to outsource systematically to people with some kind of medical training. The translation was then proofread by a translator, who would then polish up the style while preserving the terminology.


Does that not mean then that there is more work for the proofreader? A doctor may indeed know the terminology but would not necessarily understand the makeup of a translation. [/quote]

They were mostly people with some kind of medical training who had then left that field to become translators. They usually provided fit-for-purpose translations. The proofreader didn't necessarily have much more work than for other less complex translations.


 

Liviu-Lee Roth
Estados Unidos
Local time: 12:54
rumano al inglés
+ ...
let's think of another scenario Jun 7, 2018

Lingua 5B wrote:

are so busy (whether they work in research or in hospital or teaching at medical schools) - day/night shifts at hospitals, the little time they have left they are trying to spend with their kids and family. I can't imagine them having even a little time for translation or rather I can't imagine how or why a doctor would be available for translation - they would have to be out of work or for some reason suspended from work.



Doctor Đorđević, a well known doctor from Bosnia, emigrated to the US. He tried to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, but failed it by a couple of points, therefore he cannot practice in his field. Being proficient in English, he translates medical documents from Bosnian into English and vice versa. I would chose him ahead of any other professional translator.

Similar situation in the legal field (my field of expertise). I would rather have an jurist translate a document, if it is in his field of expertise, than the best translator available.I know very good, experienced translators who are not able to understand the difference between "incriminate" and "criminalize", between "double jeopardy" and " double criminality" and the list can go on.

Therefore, there is no absolute. In a given situation, we must choose the best person who is able to translate our document keeping in mind his background.

My 2c
Lee




[Edited at 2018-06-07 00:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-06-07 00:22 GMT]


 

Arabic & More  Identity Verified
Jordania
árabe al inglés
+ ...
Multiple Layers of Protection Jun 7, 2018

In my experience, the better translation agencies do not ever rely on a single individual to perform medical translations. There are multiple people involved, including linguists who check each other's work, critiquing and commenting until a consensus is reached. This will be further reviewed by a reviewer. It is also not uncommon to send the whole thing to a medical professional for further evaluation, to make sure the chosen terminology is correct and makes sense. Any changes go back to the li... See more
In my experience, the better translation agencies do not ever rely on a single individual to perform medical translations. There are multiple people involved, including linguists who check each other's work, critiquing and commenting until a consensus is reached. This will be further reviewed by a reviewer. It is also not uncommon to send the whole thing to a medical professional for further evaluation, to make sure the chosen terminology is correct and makes sense. Any changes go back to the linguists/reviewers for further discussion. In my opinion, this is the way to go. The best translations are collaborations between different professionals who are experts in their fields. But even with these different layers of protection, I have witnessed shocking errors that should not have made it as far as they did.Collapse


 

Katalin Szilárd  Identity Verified
Hungría
Local time: 18:54
inglés al húngaro
+ ...
Science and humanities - different acitivites/parts of the brain Jun 7, 2018

liviu roth wrote:

Lingua 5B wrote:

are so busy (whether they work in research or in hospital or teaching at medical schools) - day/night shifts at hospitals, the little time they have left they are trying to spend with their kids and family. I can't imagine them having even a little time for translation or rather I can't imagine how or why a doctor would be available for translation - they would have to be out of work or for some reason suspended from work.



Doctor Đorđević, a well known doctor from Bosnia, emigrated to the US. He tried to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination, but failed it by a couple of points, therefore he cannot practice in his field. Being proficient in English, he translates medical documents from Bosnian into English and vice versa. I would chose him ahead of any other professional translator.




[Edited at 2018-06-07 00:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-06-07 00:22 GMT]


Liviu, how do you know that the quality of doctor Đorđević's translations are better than other translators if you - as an end client - don't speak the language and/or you are not expert in the given field?
Translation is not about being proficient in English (or in a foreign language) and knowing a field.

Being proficient in English will not make Doctor Đorđević a medical translator.
Being proficient in English will not make a lawyer a legal translator.

Just as interpretation needs a whole bunch of different skills than translation.
Being proficient in English and being a perfect translator will not make someone a perfect interpreter either.

Different skills are needed for 1) being a physician, 2) being a translator and 3) being an interpreter.
How many times we have seen: you are in a foreign country and you don't understand the foreign language, finally you find somebody who understands both languages and she/he tries to interpret, she/he understands everything but cannot find the perfect & accurate words to interpret you the conversation. The same thing with translation: understanding a sentence in a foreign language doesn't mean you can put the meaning into your language accurately.

The point is: a physician thinks like a physician, a translator thinks like a linguist.
In school we have learnt there are science subjects (mathematics, physics, biology etc.) and there are humanities (literature, grammar, languages, arts etc. - and translation is within this category). Usually those people who are good in science are not very good in humanities and vice versa: different activities/parts of the brain. Fortunately there are exceptions, but translation and specialized translation belong to the humanities category. If you don't have that special linguistic skill, no matter how good physician you are and how perfectly you speak a foreign language, you cannot be a good translator in your specialization.





[Edited at 2018-06-07 08:21 GMT]


 

mona elshazly  Identity Verified
Egipto
Local time: 19:54
Miembro 2016
italiano al árabe
+ ...
as if you are saying Jun 7, 2018

It is as if you are saying that translators in the field engineering should be engineers, translators in the field of law should be lawyers and so on. This is not logic as why there are translators if translating a specialized text requires that a translator should have a degree therein. I think experience and being keen on work is sufficient.

 
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