Whether it is drugs, machinery or therapies, the medical-scientific sector operates on a global level, no matter in which country the study or research is carried out, the audience for evaluation, comparison and validation will always be international, therefore any work will certainly have to be translated into English, and probably also into other languages to reach important international audiences such as, for example, the Chinese and Indian ones.
In such a context, medical-scientific translation is called upon to face a multitude of challenges.
English is the language of medicine and science
One of the most important features of medical language during the last third of the last century has been the absolute predominance of English as the sole international language of medicine and science.
The current scientific monolingualism seems to be a recognized and accepted phenomenon in the scientific community and in society itself, so much so that the associated critical issues are underestimated.
In fact, when asked about the repercussions that this rise of English has had on medicine in recent decades and on its current situation of absolute dominance in scientific communication, doctors will mainly cite only two: the influence of English on current medical language and the simplification of international communication.
It seems obvious, of course, that the habitual reading of medical articles in English and access to major scientific advances through peer-reviewed journals and textbooks also written in English are changing the way doctors express themselves in their mother tongue.
The impoverishment of the language and the simplification of the language, as well as the lack of accuracy of medical-scientific transpositions from one language to another can be fought through a single tool: the training of expert linguists.
The training of medical-scientific linguists
From the point of view of translation, the most striking consequence of the dominance of scientific English is that today only in English can the formation of neologisms and the normalization of scientific language be addressed independently. In all other languages it must be admitted that translation today performs a fundamental task without which the progress of scientific language is unthinkable.
Whether we like it or not, therefore, the truth is that the scientific language in Italian today is largely the result of a process of translation from English. Even the publications that we consider original – that is, textbooks written by Italian-speaking scientists and original scientific articles published by specialized magazines in Italy – are also, for the most part, the result of an unconscious process of translation from English.
Every scientific author today is to a large extent also a translator. There are, however, two fundamental differences between the scientist who becomes a more or less occasional translator and the professional scientific translator.
Because we cannot do without specialized medical-scientific translators
The first difference is that the scientist who reads in English and publishes in Italian is often not aware of translating, nor does he actively participate in the process of formation and normalization of neologisms and technical terms, which leads him to act individually and in an uncoordinated way.
We are so used to using translated scientific language that we often don’t realize to what extent it is.
The second substantial difference between the scientist who translates unconsciously and the professional scientific translator is that the former has not been specifically trained for the translation task. Today, despite growing social demand, scientific language continues to be one of the great gaps in our university system, which neither the translation faculties nor the science faculties have so far been able to fill.
In fact, despite the incredible recent growth of translation faculties in Italy, the problem of training scientific translators has not been solved, since translation is mostly taught in converted philology faculties, with preferential and disproportionate dedication to literary translation and to comparative philology.
Medical-scientific translation, today more than ever, should be the prerogative of qualified professionals, capable of guiding change and the internationalization process of the medical sector. Trust LingoYou’s medical and scientific translation services.
Marketing Team LingoYou
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