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  Human Chromosomes
(Courtesy: National Human
Genome Research Institute
)
 
 

1. I have an engineering English text I need translated into Spanish. Would you take care of this project?

2. Do you translate from Spanish into English?

3. Are you a translation agency? Do you subcontract your translations?

4. What if I need a “second pair of eyes” for the documents I’ve sent you for translation?

5. What is the difference between revision, proofreading and review in medical translation?

6. In your website you seem to differentiate computer-assisted translation and machine translation. Aren’t they one and the same?

7. Do you use machine translation for your translation projects?

8. I am a medical school professor of microbiology and immunology and I need several of my immunology papers translated from English into Spanish. Do I need a professional translator? Couldn’t I just ask a Spanish friend of mine who has a great command of the English language?

9. So I need a professional translator for my immunology papers. But does s/he have to be specialized in the medical field?

10. Will the confidentiality of my documents be preserved?

 

1. I have an engineering English text I need translated into Spanish. Would you take care of this project?

No. We are fully specialized in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. We believe specialization is key for top-quality results, and we are sure we couldn’t do as good a job in disciplines that are not our own. For your engineering text we’d suggest you contact somebody specialized in that field.

2. Do you translate from Spanish into English?

No. Our native and dominant language is Spanish. The native language is the language one grew up with. The dominant language in the language one is most fluent in. Usually, as is our case, the native language is also the dominant language. Rarely, because of prolonged, total immersion in a non-native language later on in their lives, some translators are able to produce the same or better quality in a non-native language. If you need a top-quality text in English, we would be happy to recommend a professional translator whose dominant language is English.

3. Are you a translation agency? Do you subcontract your translations?

We are not a translation agency. We personally take care of all the projects we accept. Rarely, for very high-volume, tight-deadline projects, we may contact other medical translators (provided the client agrees to this arrangement) to help us out specifically in the translation phase. We personally revise and quality-control all external translations to ensure consistency and quality.

4. What if I need a “second pair of eyes” for the documents I’ve sent you for translation?

We offer our clients a “tandem translation process” (as per International Standard ISO 17100: Translation Services - Requirements for Translation Services): the first linguist takes care of the translation plus revision (bilingual editing) of the text; the second linguist then performs an independent revision (bilingual editing) of the first-linguist version, as well as a quality control check (preferred automated QA tool: ApSIC Xbench); the last step in the process is the hard-copy proofreading of the final, consensus version. We deliver electronic copies of the first-linguist version, the second linguist-revised version and the final version.

5. What is the difference between revision, proofreading and review in medical translation?

We can tell you what is generally understood by revision, proofreading and review in medical translation, but you may find different definitions, even overlapping concepts. For this reason, whenever you request a quote, you should make sure that you and your potential translation service provider are “speaking the same language”. A revision (or bilingual editing) is a comparison of the source text (text that is translated into another language) and the target text (text that results from translating the source text) to verify whether the target text is complete (all the text that should be translated has been translated), accurate (conveys the whole meaning of the source text and contains no additions, ambiguities or errors), terminologically appropriate (the terminology is correct for the specific domain, follows the glossaries and/or reference material provided and any other client's preferences, is used consistently throughout the translation, and complies with regulatory requirements), follows the style guides and any other client's specifications, contains no grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors, conforms to current common usage in the target language, is linguistically and culturally appropriate for the intended target reader and reflects the source's register and style according to the previously agreed-upon specifications for that project, etc. Proofreading follows revision, and implies going over the target text to verify that it contains no grammar, spelling, punctuation or typographical errors. Usually proofreading involves also checking the translation against the original to verify that the format in the target text reflects the format in the source text. Proofreading is best performed on a hard copy, since an amazing number of errors may be overlooked on a computer screen. The review usually takes place on a target text that has already been revised and proofread. In principle, only the target text is checked (there’s no confrontation with the source text). It’s performed by a subject-matter expert, and its goal is to ascertain that the final translated text is technically correct as well as culturally and technically appropriate for the intended audience.

6. In your website you seem to differentiate computer-assisted translation and machine translation. Aren’t they one and the same?

Not at all. Computer-assisted translation or computer-aided translation (CAT) is human translation aided by different software tools, including translation memory tools. Translation memory tools suggest to the human translator target segments corresponding to identical or similar source segments stored in a database of source-target segments from previous human translations in that language pair. The human translator accepts, rejects, or edits the target text suggested by the translation memory tool so that the final segment in the target language matches the segment in the source text. Provided the translation memory’s quality is good and it’s carefully maintained and updated, the use of such tools reduces translation costs and turnaround times and maximizes terminology and style consistency. Although the term “CAT” tends to be used as an equivalent to “translation memory tools”, CAT actually involves the use of many other software tools that aid in the different phases of a translation project (such as spell and grammar checkers, terminology management tools, quality assurance tools, etc.) and allow linguists to focus on those tasks that can only be performed by human beings. Machine translation (MT) or automated translation is computer translation without human intervention during the translation process itself: MT systems produce a preliminary, raw target text that requires post-editing by a human being. Some of MT’s main uses today are providing an approximate idea of the general content of a document written in another language (gisting), translating material that, because of cost limitations or impossible volumes, would go untranslated if MT didn’t exist, and speeding the translation process by providing first-draft target language documents for human post-editing. MT won’t work for all types of texts: its accuracy depends to a great degree on the source text characteristics, since MT engines cannot manage unknown terminology, erroneous sentence structure, intentional use of atypical sentence structure, grammar and spelling mistakes, or context, tone and nuance issues the way a human translator can. We should also point out that the approach to editing a machine-generated document is different to that of editing a human-produced one, since machine-derived errors are different. In the context of technical translation, with highly-customized MT systems and for very specific types of texts in very specific environments, our experience is that MT has a niche in the translation business, and we believe we technical translators will be seeing a lot more of it in the future.

7. Do you use machine translation for your translation projects?

No. All our translation projects are human-translated (full traceability for every step). For most of them we use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, which allow us to reduce costs and turnaround times and to maximize terminology and style consistency.

8. I am a medical school professor of microbiology and immunology and I need several of my immunology papers translated from English into Spanish. Do I need a professional translator? Couldn’t I just ask a Spanish friend of mine who has a great command of the English language?

That would depend on how much you actually need to be able to trust the translation of your papers. If you wanted a sailing boat built that would float today and also ten years from today, you would contact a professional boat builder, not an experienced sailor. Professional translation is a profession, just as architecture, engineering, or lawyering. It has its fundamentals, its general and specialized tools of the trade, its specific challenges and pitfalls, its tricks, a learning curve that cannot be hastened… What are Across, Déjà Vu, SDL Trados Translator's Workbench, SDL Trados Studio, SDLX, STAR Transit, Wordfast, etc., and how can they help translators provide a more terminology- and style-consistent translation with a faster turnaround? What should a translator know about automated quality assurance tools to optimize translation quality? What are standards ASTM F 2575-06 and ISO 17100:2015, and how are they relevant to a translator’s line of work? Which desktop publishing tools should a translator become familiar with? Why is “carbunco” the correct translation into Spanish for “anthrax”, and “ántrax” the correct translation into Spanish for “carbuncle”? Which calques and loanwords is it OK to use in medical translation, and which ones should be avoided? If you need to be able to trust your translation, you need a professional translator.

9. So I need a professional translator for my immunology papers. But does s/he have to be specialized in the medical field?

Yes. Medical translation is inherently difficult: medical terminology is massively vast, ever-growing, context-dependent, register-variable, and false friend-friendly. And medical translation is not only about the terminology. It's also about using the right medical language, that is, expressing things in such a way that physicians, nurses, and biomedical sciences professionals feel "at home" with what they are reading. But medical translation is above all about understanding the subject: in order to comprehend simple and complex medical processes and techniques, translators working in the Medicine and Biomedical Sciences fields need a solid knowledge in anatomy, physiology, semiotics, statistics, molecular biology, pharmacology, and internal medicine. This knowledge may come from a medical school background, from specific medical translation training and experience, or from both (our case). Medical translators also need to be familiar with the procedures and instruments involved. A medical school background again is a huge advantage, since having studied, performed, witnessed, and read about these procedures and instruments for years (and having the possibility of examining them at a hospital and consulting about them with colleagues) decidedly helps: How do you map and ablate atrial fibrillation foci within the pulmonary veins using a single multi-electrode radiofrequency catheter? How do you locate anatomical points and determine trajectories for cranial surgery through three-dimensional neuronavigation with frameless stereotaxy? If we translators don’t understand the procedure, we’ll just parrot the source, and we are bound to make mistakes in the process or, in the best of cases, to produce ambiguities and to transfer overlooked source errors to the target text. We should also point out that we medical translators never stop learning, and our professional trajectory is marked by a substantial investment of personal time in studying and researching.

10. Will the confidentiality of my documents be preserved?

The information we handle is often sensitive or confidential in nature. We perfectly understand the absolute necessity of rigorous confidentiality and non-disclosure standards. The confidentiality of all your personal information and of all your documentation will be preserved, starting the moment you contact us. We are willing to sign non-disclosure agreements.

 

 
 

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