Specialised translators vs specialists translating (ES & EN). Part I.

Hace unos meses (concretamente hace tres) me encontré con un interesante estudio sobre las diferencias existentes en la calidad de los trabajos entregados cuando los encargos de traducción son llevados a cabo por traductores especializados en el campo de la medicina o profesionales de esta disciplina dedicados a la traducción. Mucho se habla de este tema pero yo, en particular, nunca me había encontrado con ningún estudio que demostrara “científicamente” cuáles eran esas diferencias y por eso me atrajo (podéis leer la entrada de blog que yo leí en su momento en: http://gxplanguageservices.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/guest-post-translating-with-and-without-medical-background-a-retrospective-study/).

La razón de que me interesase tanto, obviamente, reside en que yo trabaje en una temática especializada de la traducción, la técnica, y que haya montado todo este tinglado de proTECT project precisamente para que la calidad de los trabajos de traducción técnica sea siempre TAN buena que ningún lector sea capaz de averiguar jamás si fueron hechos por un traductor especializado o por un profesional en el campo dedicado a la traducción ;-).

Por ello, a raíz de este descubrimiento decidí ponerme en contacto con una de las redactoras del estudio, Yana Onikiychuk, y pedirle permiso para hablar de su trabajo en la ponencia que di el pasado mes de octubre en la Universidad de Alicante con motivo del RITerm 2012 (http://web.ua.es/es/riterm-2012/). No sólo accedió a que usase su material, también me concedió una entrevista. Ofrece interesante información adicional a la entrada publicada en octubre en el blog de The Stinging Nettle, así que, aprovechando que la traducción de textos médicos está de actualidad (puesto que acaba de salir el último número de la revista Panacea 😉 http://www.tremedica.org/panacea/PanaceaPDFs/Panacea36_Diciembre2012.pdf) os animo a leer este interesante intercambio, que hemos decidido dividir en dos partes para que la entrada de blog no os resulte larga.

Pero antes de nada, dejadme que os presente a mi interlocutora:
01 (3) b&wYana Onikiychuk is an EN,DE,Pl>RU medical translator and interpreter, as well as medical marketing consultant, ex-medical doctor. At some point of her medical carrier she decided that medicine was not enough and went to translation school. Now she benefits from two backgrounds working in localization and the medical-marketing field. She is also co-author of the study on quality of medical translation performed by translators with and without medical background, and constantly tries to create bridges between these two specialties so that translated medical texts can finally be good to read. LinkedIn profile: http://cy.linkedin.com/in/yanaonikiychuk Blog: http://onikiychuk.com/?page_id=354

Y ahora, al trapo (la entrevista se realizó en inglés porque Yana no habla español):

Q: Yana, how come you decided to go ahead with a study of these characteristics (to compare the performance of linguists and specialists in their translation work)?

A: In Russian translation society, there are endless debates on which kind of translator is better for specialized translation, one with linguistic background, or the other one with technical/medical/legal background. For the Russian translation market, those debates are relevant because there is a substantial amount of translators, either part-time or full-time, that graduated from technical, medical or law schools and have major knowledge in the field, and at some point decide to chase a translation job for some economic or career reasons. It is generally anticipated that a translator with such field-relevant background performs better in understanding source texts and s/he is more fluent in field-specific terminology and expressions. However, translators of this kind usually lack linguistic and translation training, and sometimes have serious problems with the style and grammar of their native language. As a medical translator and former medical doctor, I saw medical translators coming from both ends, linguistic/translation departments and medical schools. In Russian medical schools they also offer a 2-year training on medical translation, but as to my experience, the curriculum at such trainings is rather short and doesn’t include even the basics on translation theory. During this training we, as students, were mostly working on our language skills and reading comprehension of peer-reviewed medical articles. On the other hand, at translation schools students do not get enough expertise in the medical and healthcare field, since most translation materials and workshops consider legal and financial translation as the biggest (and easiest to get into) translation market domains, and technical translation to some extent. Courses on medical translation, if any, are quite abridged and do not provide a decent insight into the field. So there are benefits and shortcomings for both types of specialists, and we decided to figure out what is better for medical translation, to be performed by a medical doctor/nurse/pharmacist or by a linguist.

Q: Are you aware of the existence of other studies of this kind?

A: During the literature search (PubMed, MEDLINE, Google) we found a lot of publications of importance on medical communication and medical translation, especially within the scope of physician-patient relationships in multicultural countries. There were also many papers on actual studies performed to assess the importance and quality of medical interpreting in hospital settings, but just a few publications on quality of medical translation. The review article by Fetters MD, ‘Quality in medical translations: a review’ (J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2007 Feb;18(1):74-84) is of particular importance and provides a decent review of current state of medical translation, but again mainly for hospital and healthcare settings. We didn’t find any publication on studies comparing quality of medical translation performed by linguists vs. medical doctors. However, there is a good review on this topic in ‘Translation and Medicine’, Volume X of Scholarly Monograph Series (ATA, 1998) with the whole chapter named ‘Who Makes a Better Medical Translator: The Medically Knowledgeable Linguist or the Linguistically Knowledgeable Medical Professional? A Physician’s Perspective’. Here is the conclusion they made: ‘Good medical translation can be done by both medical professionals and medically knowledgeable linguists; but in both cases, a love of language, an ear for style, a willingness to pursue arcane terminology, and caring enough to get it exactly right are the keys to true success’.

Q: In your study you work with three different profiles: linguists (L), specialists (MD) and professionals of both fields (MDL). But in the case of the last ones you actually talk about two different combinations: MDL and LMD, that is, doctors that latter on get a degree or acquire some kind of training in translation or the other way round. Have you noticed any difference of performance between these two groups?

A: Concerning these 2 subgroups (MDLs and LMDs), we didn’t perform the separate analysis to compare performance in medical translation between them because of the small sample size, but we can anticipate that such combined training (both linguistic and medical) gives a translator a distinctive advantage in knowledge from both specialties, better grip on medical terminology and field-specific issues, and also better translating and writing skills. Moreover, the decision to acquire an additional training in the domain one has a lack of expertise (like in linguistics for medical doctors and in medicine for linguists) usually comes to a mature professional, who can clearly set goals and think about quality of his/her work. This, in my believe, makes such translators more valuable on the market.

Si piensas que esta entrada ha sido interesante, ¡espera a leer la segunda y última parte de la entrevista! / If you think this post was interesting, just wait and read the second and last part of the interview! 😉

TO BE CONTINUED…

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About proTECT project

iniciativa en pro del acercamiento entre técnicos y traductores especializados y en busca de la calidad técnica y lingüística óptimas de la documentación que generan. Si quieres colaborar, puntual o habitualmente, ponte en contacto con nosotros en proTECTproject@ymail.com

8 responses to “Specialised translators vs specialists translating (ES & EN). Part I.”

  1. pulsa aqui says :

    Interesante blog . Aprendo algo con cada blog todos los días. Siempre es grato poder disfrutar el contenido de otros bloggers. Osaría usar algo de tu blog en mi blog, naturalmente pondré un enlace , si no te importa. Gracias por compartir.

  2. Samsung Galaxy S3 Cover says :

    I am genuinely glad to read this blog posts which contains plenty of helpful facts, thanks for providing such statistics.

  3. Esther Oliveros says :

    Es muy interesante el tema de la traducción especializada así que espero la segunda parte

    • amaia gómez goikoetxea says :

      Así lo creo yo también. Me interesó el estudio precisamente por ello, no tanto por centrarse en la traducción médica (que yo en particular no trabajo) sino porque creo que sus resultados pueden extrapolarse a otras especializaciones. Y si Yana se queja de la falta de formación adecuada en traducción médica… ya ni hablemos de la técnica 😦
      Hoy mismo se publicará la segunda parte de esta entrevista, espero que os deje un buen sabor de boca :-).
      Saludos,
      amaia

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