Some skills in Medical English Translation (II)

2. The processing of word meaning
The word meaning should be decided by the context of original text. The word meaning in original text should be explicated if necessary.
2.1 The choice of word meaning
As we all known, one English word often has several meanings. Besides, there will be some other different meanings after matching with other words.
a) Words are chosen according to the context and speech.
For example:
The temperature will fall to normal within 24 hours. 体温将在 24 小时内降为正常。(Fall: Verb. “下降”)
The child fell in this afternoon. 今天下午孩子病了。(Fall: Link Verb,“变得”)
b) To chose word meaning according to collocation. We should master idioms and fixed collocation as more as possible. Especially pay attention to collocation between adj. and noun, verb. and noun.
For example:
Heavy smoking greatly increases the probability of getting lung cancer. 抽烟过多会大大增加患肺癌的可能性。
Avoidance of heavy food is very important of the patients with stomach trouble. 对有胃病的病人来说,重要的是避免进食难消化的食物。
2.2 Meaning extended
When we cannot find out suitable meaning to translate, we should consider extending the original meaning. There are two main methods about extending meaning including abstraction and concretion.
a) Abstraction extending. We should use general words instead of concrete words in original text if necessary.
For example:
Application of laser in correction of myopia surgery is still in its infancy.
Mistranslation: 激光在近视矫正手术中的应用仍处于婴儿期
Suitable translation: 激光在近视矫正手术中的应用仍处于发展的初期
b) Concretion extending. We should use concrete words instead of general words in original text if necessary.
For example:
The book is perhaps too high-powered for common doctor.
Mistranslation: 此书对于一般医生来说也许功率过大。
Suitable translation: 此书对于一般医生来说也许内容过于深奥。

This is only a small part about medical English translation. If you have interest in it, you can click here to view Some Skills in Medical English Translation (I). Also, you can continue to pay attention to this kind of blogs.

Some skills in Medical English Translation(I)

In our company, CCJK, we often get some medical English translation tasks. According to our experience in so many years, there would be some skills introduced in the following text. Hope it can help you in your work.

1. Generally speaking, there are two basic standards in medical English translation-honest and fluent.

1.1. Honest

“Honest” means that the translation must be honest to the original text content without adding or deleting any content. Moreover, the translation should be honest to original text style, mood, etc. However, it is not honest if you blindly pursue the consistence with the surface structure of original text.

For example

The complains of the patient answered to the suitable manifestations of the disease.

Suitable translation: 患者的主诉回答了此病的适当表现。

Should be translated: 患者的主诉符合此病应有的表现。

1.2. Fluent

“Fluent” means language must accord with Chinese grammar criterion. The usage of words and sentences should be in keeping with Chinese habits. We should avoid unreasonable direct translation word by word, as well as being difficult understood phenomena, etc.

For example 1

Ailment prevented him from going to the cinema.

Mistranslation: 疾病妨碍他去电影院。

Suitable translation: 他因病未去电影院。

For example 2

The medicine will make him feel better.

Mistranslation: 这药会使他感到好些。

Suitable translation: 他服这药后会感到好些。

Now, please modify the following translation.

a)       The amount of sleeprequired depends upon age and health of the individual.

Mistranslation: 睡眠的需要量取决于一个人的年龄和健康。

b)       Two hour passed before the patient came to.

Mistranslation: 在患者苏醒之前,两小时过去了。

The above is one part of medical English translation. The left parts will be delivered in several weeks. If you would like to know how to translate or write English medical record, please click here.

Sentene structure of medical English (1)

As we know medical English is an expert subject because its huge volume vocabulary and comprehensive sentence structure. Here I would like to share some ideas learnt from my college classes. First to understand the medical sentence structure, we should figure out the standards to justify a good sentence.  

What is a good sentence?
A good sentence should tell its readers the messages in a short time. Speaking of time-shorten and clear sentences, the most important and basic requirements of sentence should be simple and direct, or we can say precise and concise. But in medical English writing or translating, there are many factors will become obstacles on our way to simplify sentence.
There are six most common factors which influence the concise and precise of sentences.
1. Fail to express the core message with the subject, verb and completer in the sentence.
2. Nouns clusters.
3. Sentences over-long and contains too much contents.
4. Using unclear antecedents to represent pronoun and to lead the clause sentence.
5. Putting Improperly using preposition phrases to express actions or movements ideas in unparallel forms
6. Grammar errors

Let us try to make every point clear on the following texts.

1. Expressing the core message with the subject, verb and completer in the sentence. How to achieve this point? We can Make the topic the subject and put the action in the verb.
How do you notice that one didn’t use verbs to express action and movements? On one hand, we can check whether the verbs are uncertain verbs or not, like occur, cause, be made, be achieved, be noted, be carried out, etc.
On the other hand, we can check whether the subjects or objects in the sentences are nouns transferred from verbs, like prolongation, inhibition, formation, production, measurement, assessment, enhancement, occurrence, existence, reversal, survival
There are six mistakes made when expressing actions or movements without using verbs.

A. Improperly using subjects to express actions or movements.

 Eg: An increase in heart rate occurred.

B. Improperly using objects to express actions or movements.

Eg: The new drug caused a decrease in heart rate.

C. Improperly using preposition phrases to express actions or movements.

Eg:  With bilateral leg vessel congestion, the compliance of forearm vessels increased significantly.

D. Improperly using nouns lead by “ there be” form to express actions or movements.

Eg: There is a modest enhancement in radical cleavage at base pairs 10-12.

E. Improperly using adjective rather than verb+ adjective to express actions or movements.

Eg: These results demonstrate the essential role of the DI receptor in the locomotor stimulant effects of cocaine.

F. Improperly using nouns rather than verb’s participle. form to express actions or movements.

Eg: One of these factors, TFIIH, possesses DNA-dependent ATPase, helicase, and protein kinase activities that may be involved in transcription initiation.
In English sentences, verbs are of great importance, we need to use verbs to express actions or movements.. Sentences will lose their spirit or become hard to understand, when omitting verbs and use preposition phrases instead or reducing the verbs’ function by using subjects or objects instead of verbs.

Medical English Translation Skills(3):Change of Part of Speech

Let’s continue the exploration on the medical English translation skills.  I had concluded some rules of Change of Part of Speech in the last blog. Here comes the rest three categories, that is, Change to Nouns, Change to Adjectives, Change to Adverbs.

II   Change to Nouns

  1. from Verbs

Endocrinology is defined as the study of the ductless or endocrine glands and their internal secretions.

Bronchiectasis differs from chronic bronchitis in that the former is more of a localized disease.

  1. from Adjectives

Although mucus glands hyperplasia is characteristic of bronchitis, it also may be encountered in bronchiectasis.


III  Change to Adjectives

  1. from Adverbs

The newly designed apparatus is chiefly featured by its high sensitivity.


  1. from Nouns preceded by an indefinite article

The clinical trail was quite a success.

Successful experiments in immunology have proved a great hope in its further application as a powerful therapeutic and diagnostic weapon.

  1. from Nouns

The pallor of the patient’s face indicated clearly how he was feeling at the moment.


The patient was all anxiety on learning the real cause of his ill-health.


  1. from adv. as an attribute

The above analysis serves to shed light on the mechanism of anesthesia acupuncture.


IV   Change to Adverbs

a.from Adjectives

Such ecologic transformations can be responsible for apparent therapeutic failure or exacerbations during antibiotic therapy.

b.from Nouns

When the patient hear any sound, his instinct is to gaze at the door.