17 Sep 6 practical tips for scientific translation
We recently wrote a related article for easing your medical translations, but now we are focusing on scientific translation. They both keep some similarities, but also some important differences. Here you can find some practical tips which will help any daily scientific translation, specially when translating from English into your mother tongue.
Be careful with anglicisms
Do never invent nor create new words for your scientific translation. English language may be a tricky source – specially in the science field; always double check and pay careful attention because it is possible that you use non-existing terms in your mother tongue – and that would be a scientific translation mistake, of course.
Decimals and figures
In English, decimals are represented with a point (3.0, 232.56, 912.091…), but in many other languages it changes into a comma. Open your eyes in your scientific translation as it might cause an important misunderstanding. Conversion units are also subject to mistake. Amounts of money, doses of drugs, statistics… It all may change in a catastrophic way.
Too large sentences
Unnecessary long sentences and a complex syntax only cause misunderstandings. Be the clearest as possible for your reader. A scientific translation must be concise, precise and correct.
You may not bet for it, but conditional tense is one of the most common mistakes in scientific translation. Words such as may, might, can, could, should or shall are the trickiest ones because hints are subject to completely change the meaning of the sentence. What conditional tense and probability express should be looked closely. A drastic, unequivocal or conclusive statement might offer a slightly different point of view.
Any translation must pay attention to false friends, but it is more important – for sure – in those fields related to health. Scientific translation may focus on researching, testing… or even human lives. So do not confuse information avoiding unnecessary risks.