Some thoughts on Interpreting the Future Conference, BDU 2012


Almost 3 months passed since the Interpreting the Future Conference, organized by BDU this September in Berlin, but I’d love to share some impressions, mostly for my Russian colleagues, who were not there. This year BDU Conference and TFR 2012 had the same dates (28 till 30 September), so it was a tough choice. By the way, you can read a wonderful blog post on TFR 2012 from ReinhardSchaler’s blog.

So, the BDU Conference… It was the first time for me to attend the conference organized by BDU (Germany’s Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators), and I’ve got a very positive impression. The conference was held at a very professional level, including the web-site, number and spectrum of presentations and level of speakers. There were many talks on business matters, freelancing, terminology, technical translation, working with direct clients (inimitative Chris Durban!), need for specialization and getting the expertise in specific field, standardization and many, many others. The exhibition was not as big as I’ve used to see at medical conferences, but there were a lot of local companies, software developers and translation agencies, that are not so well known at ProZ or other big translator aggregators.

The people who attend the Conference were really different from what I’ve seen in Russia at TFR 2011. The latest was attended mostly by young translators and interpreters, seeking for wisdom and knowledge from their senior colleagues (and there were many gurus from Russian translation industry to learn from). At BDU Conference, on the contrary, there were significantly less young people, and more middle-aged professionals, working on their goals in continuous education.

It was amazing for me to see a bunch of presentations on sign interpreting, included in the Conference agenda, and actual sign interpreters were working on the opening, interpreting the speech of the officer lady from German Ministry of Education. Great to see that sign interpreting in Germany is considered a part of interpreting profession, and this service is highly evaluated.

Along with presentations, panel discussions were of a great interest, held by outstanding experts. However, to feel comfortable one should possess a good command of German to follow the lead. Conference agenda included equal amounts of English and German presentations, and many German presentations were interpreted into English (great job done by volunteer conference interpreters). However, panel discussions were live, and I had to use all my knowledge of German to follow the course of discussion.

The section on medical translation, where I was involved as a speaker, was not so big, holding only 3 presentations, but full of attendees, and we had a lively discussion. My presentation on the study in medical translation performed by medical doctors and linguists was a bit of surprise, since the phenomenon of medical doctor migrating into translation field in Germany (and in many countries outside Russia) is exceptional, and the number of such translators is close to zero. But it was great to share the Russian experience with German colleagues, and to get some insight into German medical translation field.

Three days of intensive networking and professional education made a great experience, and I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to attend this event. If you ask for my recommendation, whether to attend the next BDU Conference, I will say ‘yes’.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear colleagues, friends and readers,

Warm regards and congratulations with Christmas and New Year!
It was a great year, full of new meetings, interesting events and exciting projects. I wish you all  wonderful Christmas spirit, crispy and sunny weather (though here in Cyprus we don’t have snow at all, but we’ve got it all in the beginning of December traveling in Germany). Have great holidays, and see you all in 2013!


Medical Translation: A Retrospective Study on the Quality of Medical Translation Produced by Translators With and Without a Medical Background

Dear colleagues,

We have a study to share on medical translation we’ve done toghether with my Russian colleagues.

In this study we assess the number and type of mistakes in translation samples done by translators with or without medical background.

You can find an article with preliminary results as the quest post at GxP Language Services blog,
The PPT on this study from Interpreting the Future Conference 2012 is available from my website, (tab Publications).
For those of you who read Russian, I recommend to join discussion on Russian translation forum
And for those who not, there is discussion in English at

I’ll be happy to hear your comments/feedback on this study and its results.


Consistency of Medical Dictionaries

We usually treat dictionaries, including medical dictionaries, as valuable and impeccable source of information. But is it always right? Take a look on article from  Svetolik P. Djordjević, where he compares two highly validated medical dictionaries and discuss discrepancies between them.


Svetolik P. Djordjević

Abstract: Medical translators should be aware of ambiguities and inconsistencies found in standard medical reference works. I will point these out through a comparative analysis of Dorland’s and Stedman’s medical dictionaries, with appropriate examples.

Click to access medi-proceedings.pdf

Blaiming Patient Information Sheets for Cancer Trials

Very interesting though debatable article on Patient Information Leaflets for subjects invited to participate in cancer trials. It turns out, most of such PILs are not written in a good way. So keep it in my mind while translating those PILs into your native language. Maybe, they are worth editing.

Cancer Trials Patient Information Leaflets Too Long, Intimidating And Incomprehensible

According to a new study from the University of Leicester that has been published in the international journalSociology of Health and Illness, patient information leaflets for cancer trials miss the mark, with patients declaring they are far too long, incomprehensible, and even intimidating.

Dictionary Translation Syndrome

Wonderful point from João Roque Dias, CT in his article «Translating Technical Manuals»:

Who translates technical manuals?

You’re right! Professional technical translators with a deep knowledge of the subject matter, impeccable writing skills and an excellent command of the “manual style.” Again, at least, that’s who should translate them. In the real world, however:

  • Some translators have no idea of what they’re translating…
  • Basic technical concepts (that should show in the translated text) are simply left out
  • “Style” is reduced to a simple “word by word translation” (the dictionary translation syndrome) (end of quote)
Be aware of this highly malignant syndrome!

Online medical content curation and personal time management with Web 2.0: an exciting era

Marvellous article on web-savvy medical doctors.

Just 1 quick citation for you to appreciate the humor of the author:

Table 2. Differences in my online activities between 2000 and today
I need clinical answer Try to find a colleague who knows it Post a question on Twitter
I want to hear a patient’s story about a specific condition Try to find a patient in my town Read blogs, watch YouTube
I want to be up-to-date Go to the library once a week Use RSS and follow hundreds of journals
I want to work on a manuscript with my team We gather around the table Use Google Docs without geographical limits
Cell Ther Transplant. 2011;3:e.000093.01. doi:10.3205/ctt-2011-en-000093-table2