Differences between linguists and subject-matter experts in the medical translation practice
An empirical descriptive study with professional translators
In the literature on medical translation, the question as to who translates (or should translate) medical texts has been largely discussed on the basis of the traditional linguists versus subject-matter experts opposition. Both scholars and professional translators have attempted to determine medical translators’ profile by making statements about the characteristics of translators with a linguistic background and those of translators with a scientific-medical one. These statements are generally based on intuition or personal experience rather than on empirical data which can be used to back up any kind of evaluation that may be made. This paper aims to bridge this gap by presenting the results of an empirical descriptive study which surveyed practicing medical translators. The survey included questions such as academic qualification, years of experience, customers, genres translated, main difficulties encountered, and degree of self-instruction received, among others. On the basis of these data, this paper approaches the medical translators’ profile and explores the main differences between translators with a linguistic background and translators with a scientific-medical one. The results show that some of the most substantial differences between them relate to the years of experience, difficulties encountered, documentation resources used, and training needs.
Keywords: medical translation, professional practice, translators with a linguistic background, translators with a scientific-medical background, empirical descriptive study
Published online: 05 February 2018
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