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English Medical Translation

English Medical Translation



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Published by: lixiaoxiu on Feb 19, 2009
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18 February 2009 
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Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t794297831
Omoregbe Esohe Mercy
University of Benin, NigeriaOnline Publication Date: 13 April 2006
To cite this Article
Mercy, Omoregbe Esohe(2006)'ENGLISH-EDO MEDICAL TRANSLATION',Perspectives,13:4,268 — 277
To link to this Article: DOI:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
mọrẹ gbẹsọhẹMercy, University of Benin, Nigeria.
Every time languages are in contact, there are areas of ‘untranslatability’, linguistic or seman-tic areas that do not match in the languages. These vary all the time between specific languages,but translators meet with them whatever their field. The present article discusses instances of such ‘untranslatability’ as they challenge medical translators and interpreters in Edo-speakingregions (Benin) in Nigeria. They can be divided into broad categories such as linguistic andcultural ones, and translators can tackle them in various ways, the most obvious one being by providing explanatory commentary, based on some in-depth knowledge of the specific disease andits symptoms. On the linguistic side, language professionals can rely on a number of loanwords from English, but on the cultural side they have to be aware of taboos and other sociological factorsin Edo society. It is only by keeping in mind and by identifying the multiple factors in problemareas and a�empting to find ways of overcoming them that translators and interpreters can fulfiltheir task and help improve communication between doctors and their patients. In the processthey not only further the general state of health and the medical establishment in a country, butthey also enhance local medical terminology. These are all aspects that should be applicable andconsequently of paradigmatic interest to language professionals in the health services in manyemerging nations in today’s globalised society.
Language pair: Ẹdo-English; medical translation; medical interpreting; cul-tural problems; linguistic problems; world knowledge.
The present article focuses on the translation of medical text between Eng-lish, varieties of English, and Ẹ ̣do, which is the main language spoken in BeninCity, the capital of Ẹdo State in Nigeria.In a Translation Studies context, it is taken for granted that to do an adequatetranslation, translators must understand not only the texts in hand, but also thephysical world and culture in which they are produced originally. This impliesthat translators should be familiar with the everyday life in the source locationand that their activity is not merely a manipulation of linguistic data. Trans-lators handling medical texts do not have to be trained as doctors or nurses, but it is imperative that they understand all the associated implications – thelinguistic, medical, social, and cultural contexts in which they work. This theycan do by having sufficient world knowledge, first to assume the role of thecommunicator of the source text (writer, speaker, etc.), and, subsequently, thatof the listener og reader in the target language: translation is a means for com-munication.In a medical context, communication is central to both professionals and pa-tients. General practitioners, for example, have to infer what the patients aretrying to say and they must grasp the hints that patients may drop about ail-ments that worry them. General practitioners must also explain to patients whatis wrong: good doctors believe that being able to discern hidden meaning inwhat their patients say is one of their skills.There are numerous problems when doctors and patients speak different lan-guages or even different varieties of the same language (which is frequentlythe case when Ẹdo–speaking doctors aend to Ẹdo–speaking patients in thedo community). Tanner (1976) rightly points out that, in addition to emotional
0907-676X/05/04/268-10 $20.00Perspectives: Studies in Translatology© 2005 ỌmọrẹgbẹsọhẹMercy Vol. 13, No. 4, 2005
mọrẹ gbẹ. English–Ẹdo Medical Translation.
and other extraneous factors, the ease of communication in a doctor-patient dis-course depends on how well and clearly the parties express themselves: clarityof speech is a necessary requirement for proper diagnosis and treatment.This is where translation and interpreting come into the picture. Catford de-fines translation as: “The replacement of textual material in one language, [thesource language,] by equivalent textual material in another language, [the tar-get language].” (1965: 20)Although this definition is dated in many contexts, it still has some bearing ontextual material in the medical field, regardless of the language pair involved. Ashinted, translators are a kind of creator the moment they bridge language gapsand render a source text in the target language: they create the specific form ofthe target-language message and in order to do so, they must be competent in both languages (Uwajeh 1994). The specific nature of medical communicationthat merits focus in regards to Catford’s statement is the terminology used in thehealth sector, which o�en requires specific renditions, lexical equivalents, etc.This means that interpreters and translators may meet with terms and phrasesin the source language that rule out, as it were, a total transfer of informationfrom the source to the target language. This could also be termed untranslat-ability, where paerns or meanings differ between languages, as pointed out inDollerup’s observation:
[t]he process of transfer is … limited in terms of time and space: it is mostly individual;straddling two languages at the same time, this is where we find the phenomenon ofuntranslatability; it is not part of neither static, nor dynamic texts in the source or tar-get language, but something which turns up exclusively when two language systemsmeet in the transfer of a text. Untranslatability is part of the process, of the assessmentof the process of transfer. (Dollerup (1988: 145) as quoted by Mohanty (1996: 164))
The present study endeavours to identify concepts that appear to be untrans-latable in English–Ẹdo medical seings, in order to consider the problems andstrategies for overcoming them.For exemplification we may consider the following dialogue:
Conversation 1 (in English).Doctor: “How are you and what is wrong with you?”Patient: “Fine. My ear dey pain me.”Doctor: “Which of them, le� or right ear?”Patient: “Le�, sometimes it makes noise.”Doctor: Are you feeling pain now?”Patient: “Yes.”Doctor: “Go and use these drugs… you are suffering from
noise from theinner ear which is likely to be from drug effect or so …”
In this conversation, the notion of ‘pain’ to the patient is “noise” - she hearsnoises in her ear, which the medical practitioner calls
The linguisticmiddleman handling a text like this is expected to know the usage and to renderthe meaning as closely as possible in his translation.There is an immediate and specific reason for the study described here: inorder to improve the health care system in the Ẹdo community, in Nigeria, thereis a need to examine the communication strategies used for passing informa-tion between patients and doctors and vice versa. The study may lead to beerhealth care and enhance communication and interaction between patients and

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