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medical translations

01 Apr Curiosities of medical translation

Medical translation, apart from being a very specialised field in communication, is plenty of curiosities. So many anecdotes – which are also very varied –  can be found in the history of medical translation. Here is a list of some of the curiosities related to medical translation.

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  • Historically the oldest written sources of Western medicine date from the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. in the Greek times. Later, Romans imported many of their documents, which needed to be translated into Latin being the beginning of the first important medical translation era. During the Middle Ages, a third language gained lot of importance for healthcare translation: the Arabic. But nowadays, many languages appear on the scene being English the most significant one.
  • According to different surveys, most of the medical translators agree that initials are the most difficult handicap they have ever met. Many professionals consider them a real nightmare (even more than drug names or false friends) so good resources are a necessary safe-conduct.
  • Consequences of a bad translation can be harder – and more expensive – than what you have ever imagined. For example, once a misunderstanding in a medical interpreting – due to a non qualified nor professional individual – resulted in a quadriplegia. A law suit was initiated and the hospital had to paid $71 millions for liquidated damages.
  • There are more doctors who have later became translators than translators who later specialised in medicine. So those doctors have a high healthcare knowledge and background which may be applied to the linguistic area. Results are expressed in quality.
  • All along the centuries, translated medical texts have saved much more lives than not translated medical texts because they those lost ones have reached many more people all along the history.

These are just a small sample, but would you like to add any other curiosity? If so, do not hesitate to share it with Okomeds

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