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How to (1): medical / pharma translations

First, do no harm.

How to (1): medical / pharma translations

First, do no harm. And I mean it. You’re playing with people’s lives.

As a reviewer, I might gloss over a gender/number disagreement or a wrong plural every once in a while, and mark it as minor. I will never, however, forgive you for not looking up your terminology, not searching for references, not reading the bare minimum you need to understand how that drug or device works. And you only need the bare minimum, really. This is the how NOT to.

Now let’s get on with the HOW TOs.

DO your research. Really. Do it. Some medical jargon will not be in your mainstream dictionary or in any dictionary at all, because this is how languages work, use trumps the linguists’ opinions.
DO ask questions, especially when you are dealing with new/innovative products. Sometimes the PM knows the subject better than you. Sometimes they can ask the end-client.
DO read medical literature. You don’t necessarily need to know everything, but you need understand the basics of the subject.
DO confer with colleagues, even those in different fields. Sometimes a medical device crosses over into a different field, such as electricity, mechanics, audio-video, and so on.

The long and short of it should be this: be responsible and think of all the lives your translation might affect. It’s as simple as that. If not, well, expect becoming a “mean” reviewer’s or agency’s next “victim”.

Translator. Foodie. Science nerd and language expert with a passion for medical, technical and gourmet translations.

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