You have an important medical document to translate and need a professional Polish medical translator, but are unsure what to expect? You are not alone. Most of our clients have never used a specialist translation service before and are often overwhelmed by the complexity of the task before them. I have the same feeling of uncertainty when I need to have a home appliance urgently repaired.
Last week my dishwasher broke down and I had to call in an engineer to fix it. A few minutes into his work, I walked into the kitchen only to find out he was Googling the issue on his phone. I was completely taken aback at what I thought was a rather cheeky attitude. When I challenged him about it, he offered a perfectly reasonable explanation. He needed to find more information from the manufacturer. It made me wonder how much we assume when we hire a professional to do work for us.
Similar misconceptions regularly come up with our clients. As a client of our specialist translation service, you may have some assumptions about how a Polish medical translator works and what is involved in the project cycle. You may also wonder whether the fee for the service you are buying represents good value for money. I thought I would clarify here the most common misconceptions to help you make more informed choices and enjoy a good working relationship with us.
Good translators can translate anything
Shorter documents are cheaper to translate
Document format makes no difference
There is only one correct translation
All I need is a translation
Just like you would not ask your dishwasher man to fix your MacBook Pro, you should not ask, for example, a literary translator to translate your medical records. Literary translation and medical translation are equally challenging, but require different set of skills and expertise. Translators usually specialise in certain areas, and the assumption that a good translator can translate any document is plain wrong. For example, as a Polish medical translator, I have very limited knowledge of the financial sector and would not be able to help you with a translation of your financial statement. Thus, it is very important you find the right people for the job.
One of our regular clients once asked us if we could translate claims in his pharmaceutical patent application. The application was 45 pages long and the claims, the most important, legally binding part, was just one page. To understand what the invention involved and what terms we should use in the claims, we first needed to read the whole document. Contrary to what the client assumed to be a quick job, this background reading with other preparatory work took us one working day. The fee for a specialist translation service is based not only on the length of the translation, but also the complexity of it. Short pharmaceutical and medical translation projects which may attract a higher fee include: drug labels, drug prescriptions, medical certificates, abstracts of medical articles.
What are you having for dinner tonight? Imagine you wanted to make your favourite casserole. Before you can even put your orange Le Creuset dish on the stove, you need to spend a considerable amount of time chopping the vegetables. Similarly, if you would like to have a scanned copy of your medical records translated into Polish, we would need to first prepare the document by converting it into an editable format. This will allow us to use our translation and terminology management tool which guarantees high quality of the final product. We would need even more time if you send us a photo of the document containing hand-written notes. All tasks involved in the translation process would then need to be performed manually. To use the same cooking analogy, it is like kneading dough without a food processor.
Last weekend I met up with a couple of friends who were very keen on telling me about their recent holiday together. When I saw the photos they had taken on their trip, I noticed their travel experiences were captured quite differently. Similarly, translation is a creative act that involves adaptation and negotiation between different language systems. Usually, the more specialist the document is, the less room for manoeuvre the translator has. This is certainly true for medical translation, although some documents will still require some level of cultural adaptation. Nevertheless, two translations produced by two different Polish medical translators will vary, but that does not necessarily mean that one is better than the other.
On some occasions, translation as a stand-alone service is not enough. For example, translation of your most important documents as well as those intended for publications will require multiple levels of quality control, including independent editing and linguistic proofreading by another Polish medical translator. Other times, you may need our help with desktop publishing. Mistakes can easily creep into your publications if our translation is typeset by a non-Polish speaker. Earlier this year, one of our clients proudly showed us their glossy product brochure in Polish. Their joy did not last long after we pointed out that one section had been wrongly pasted from the Turkish version!
What is your experience of working with a Polish medical translator? Please feel free to share your feedback below.