Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Specialising in Medical Translation

Guest post by Rebekka Wellmanns

In this webinar, Karin Band, an experienced and expert medical translator, revealed the fascinating world of medical translation. She also shared advice on dictionaries and how to carry out research in this field. In fact, her extensive research advice could be applied to any field of translation.

Karin started the webinar by discussing the following vital points:
  • What is specialisation
  • How many specialisations can you have
  • What is medicine
  • Why should you specialise
  • Who may specialise
  • When should you specialise (i.e. preparing for specialisation and knowing when to be able to claim specialist knowledge and competency)
  • Who should not work as a medical translator
She stressed that medical translation is a life-long commitment and an extremely responsible job. Translators working in this area need to continuously acquire knowledge and maintain a high standard of competency so as not to frustrate the medical industry or bring discredit on the translation profession.

Karin also reminded us that translation is knowledge-driven, and then proceeded to discuss how to acquire such knowledge as is required by a medical translator. This knowledge acquisition is in fact the research which every translator needs to do.

Research may be:
  • General
  • Job specific
  • Situational
  • Pre-acceptance

Karin discussed in detail the following three research aids for medical translation:
  • Hardware (books, dictionaries, leaflets, models etc.)
  • Software (electronic media)
  • People-ware (human informants)

Karin stressed that although we live in a digital world, translators cannot rule out the equal importance of all three of these resources. None of them are obsolete and each one needs to complement the other.

Finally, she stressed the importance of helping clients as well as colleagues. She ended the webinar with a reminder that medical translation takes considerable effort but is well worth it. 

Originally broadcast in December 2010. Access the recording of this webinar and a follow-up session with Karin Band on 1 March 2012: more details on our website.


Our guest author is Rebekka Wellmanns, a Spanish to English translator with a background in music, linguistics and education. She is also the author of a widely-read translation blog, and tweets at @WellRebekka.

No comments: