Medical translation or medical interpreting? What is the difference?


medical translation

24 Jul Medical translation or medical interpreting? What is the difference?

You will probably have heard people talking about medical translation and medical interpreting, but you might not know what the terms actually mean. Don’t worry! We are here to clear the matter up. Clinics and hospitals use the services of both medical translators and medical interpreters. The difference between the two lies in the type of communication involved.

Translation involves transferring a written text from one language into another, while interpreting is the transfer of oral or signed communication in one language into oral or signed communication in another language. While some key skills are common to translation and interpreting, a good translator will not always make a good interpreter, and vice versa.

Interpreters must also remain independent and objective at all times, which is not always easy when interpreting for friends and family.

Although being bilingual is a key skill for medical interpreters, it is not sufficient to ensure success in the role.

Medical translators work in a very different way to interpreters, as their end product is in the form of a written document. This means that translators must have an excellent written command of the language into which they are translating, which will normally be their native language. The translation process includes a thorough reading of the original text, analysis, research, the translation itself, and then editing and proofreading.

When working with translators, it is highly recommended to have a second translator proofread all the translations to ensure they are free from errors. Your translator may be able to arrange this review for you, or you can arrange it independently.

Okomeds medical translators and medical interpreters are often members of the same professional organisations, and follow the same professional development in medical terminology to enhance their subject-matter expertise. However, given the very different skills involved, it is good to be aware of the differences between medical translation and medical interpreting so that you choose the right professional to meet your needs.


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