I found myself having to translate several texts coming from very different areas this week: from pharma patents to medical device hardware and very imaginative journalistic texts. Which one did I prefer? Well, many buyers of translation services may think that “technical translations” are more complicated as a challenge because they deal with difficult concepts and highly specialised machinery, equipment or concepts.  But really, and I guess most of my translation colleagues will agree with me in this, terminology is key here for a translator. Language tends to be fairly controlled in technical translation, whether they are pharmaceutical, engineering, electronics or automotive translations. The challenge for a translator is always to use his or her “translation brain” in creative, imaginative translations which need to convey the spirit of the original but that they are not a word-for-word translation.

So, there were some new and challenging jobs this week. In one, I had to familiarise myself with several medical terms which I offer below to novices in the field.

Lymph Node Biopsy Biopsia de ganglio linfático
Morphologic assessment of unilateral trephine bone marrow biopsy evaluación morfológica de la biopsia de médula ósea del trépano unilateral
cytologic or architectural atypia atipia citológica o arquitectónica
Screening Exploración
Nodal and Extranodal lesion Lesión ganglionar y extraganglionar
Mediastinal Lymph Node Ganglios linfáticos mediastínicos

The interesting bit here for translators who have not dealt with medical terms before is the fact that “node”, which they will be used to translate as “nodo” in so many technical applications is the little fatty tissue called “ganglio” in Spanish. I will write more about approaches to technical translations in future posts.

Medical translation in MemSource

Medical translation in MemSource

I also came accross a very common word in English “cranky”, which I had to translate into Spanish in several different contexts. “Irritable” tends to be the most direct translation, but English also has the same Latin-based word “irritable”. Meanings overlap. So, I found a solution in using “malhumorado” or “estar de mal humor” when the original English says “cranky” or “to be cranky”, particularly when it comes to describing the mood babies are in when they become restless. “Malhumorado” in Spanish is literally “bad tempered” or “in a bad mood”. Close enough. You could do this in a technical translation!!

 cranky  irritable, malhumorado
 to be cranky  estar/sentirse malhumorado, estar/sentirse de mal humor,