The Principles of Translating Drug Names

Medical drugs are very special goods that are different from common goods because they are important material for preventing and treating diseases and saving lives. With the deepening of reform and opening up, more and more drugs from abroad enter into Chinese medical market. Therefore accurate translation of theses drug names are of crucial importance.

Medical drugs, as goods, are restrained by economic rules. Both its English name and its Chinese name are the same with the common goods which relates to marketing, advertisement, customers’ mentality as well as corporate culture. As a result, when translating drug names from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese, the principle of naming common goods should be given consideration.

First, principle of popularity: using more common words used by public

Medical drugs are goods used by medical workers and patients. Except for easy remembered by medical workers, making patients understand and know the drugs is the main purpose so as to increase their usage and improve sales. Therefore, translation of medical drugs should avoid over professional and try to use more common and popular words.

Second, principle of simplicity: using method of ellipsis through reducing syllables of words

Except for the common and popular words that are easy for memory, the short words are easier to remember than the long one. So no matter how many syllables the English words have, it should no more than four words after translating into Chinese. In case of English words exceeding four syllables, the de-emphasized syllables should be omitted. For example: the translation of “Rocephin” is changed from “罗氏菌必治” into “罗氏芬”in consideration of simplicity.

Third, principle of novelty: using the method of creating words by homophone

Common goods sometimes will be named special for novelty and attracting customers. For example, a special tools company named one of its products as “Moore” that has more of letter “O” than word “More”.

Fourth, principle of familial

Some common types of medical drugs imported from other country or produced by joint ventures share the same word stem. So attention should be given to the same family of drugs for consistency during translation and avoid creating fresh innovation and renaming. For example: Ciprofloxacin, Sparfloxacin, Tosufloxacin, Enoxacin, Ofloxacin

Besides, there are other principles of translation, such as principle of association (using the method of combining pronoun and meaning), transliteration and bilingual expression (adding composition and performance) and etc.


Words translated by CCJK


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