Category: Blog List

Errors in Medical Document Translation Can Seriously Damage Your Business ─ This is Why

Errors in Medical Translation Can Seriously Damage Your Business ─ This is Why

Medical Translation Services. Is there anything special about this type of translation? Is it exceptional, or out of the ordinary, in a way or another?

These are natural questions that usually pop up whenever we consider the vital role of medical document translation within the umbrella industry that encompasses medical, clinical, pharma, and healthcare businesses.

Let’s put it outright. The answer is a big yes. Some translation categories are more demanding than others; and one translation type is particularly special.  It is medical document translation.

Why? Again, it’s self-explanatory. In the case of medical document translation, the linguist is not translating a simple essay or a newspaper article, but he or she sometimes translates a medical diagnosis in which just one error may cost the life of a human being!

However, out of curiosity, we might wonder what kind of errors that could cost the lives of people.

Where Do Medical Document Translation Errors happen?

When it’s time to translate medical terms, the accuracy of translation is not just a requirement, but probably an issue of life or death. So, before giving a few concrete examples, let’s start with having a look at some of the areas where common mistakes in medical document translation usually happen.

1- Synonyms and Coined Terms

In the medical field, scientists, researchers, doctors, and other medical professionals consistently create new terms and words at a very fast rate so that it’s too difficult to keep medical dictionaries and references up to date. This often results in medical document translation errors. It’s hard for medical translators to follow through on every newly coined medical term. However, they need to do their best if they wish to be described as qualified ones.        

2-The Recurrent Problem of Abbreviation

This is one of the frequent issues that cause the majority of medical translation errors. The same term may often have multiple abbreviations whereas one abbreviation might also be used for various terms. This often puts translators in difficult situations. Yet, still, a qualified translator would always keep abreast of not only abbreviation updates but also of each new medical terminology.

3- The Tough Choice of Doctor or Translator?!

Medical institutions may sometimes take the shortcut of entrusting the translation to doctors, preferring text accuracy over text quality ─ a tactic that often backfires!

Based upon hands-on experience, translation errors are not only due to lack of knowledge of specific terminology but also to issues related to punctuation, syntax, and grammar – which means that outsourcing professional medical translation services is ultimately the right solution! 

4-The Dilemma of Go Literal or Go Creative!

It’s a real dilemma that has been creating intense controversy in the language services industry, especially in the field of healthcare, for decades. Translators are frequently advised not to translate word for word. On the other hand, medical industry experts usually advise the same translators against using much creativity and particularly against using “figurative language”, which might, they insist, do more harm than good.

All in all, Compromise and discretion are the only ways available for translators to meet this big challenge!

And now, it’s time to dive a little deeper and see some of the real mistakes which have happened and resulted in tragedies. Let’s take 2 examples only.

Poor Francisco, where are your kidneys?!

It happened 10 years ago in one of California’s hospitals. Francisco, a Spanish-speaking man was being operated upon. As he was regrettably bad at English and was not at that moment provided with any English-Spanish translation, he signed a document consenting to have his diseased kidney removed. The surgeons, alas, took out the good kidney, and then moved on to remove the diseased one, leaving poor Francisco with no kidneys at all. Kidneys matter!

Don’t’ Be Sad Sandra, It’s Benign!

Five years ago, Sandra, an elderly Macedonian who neither read Shakespeare nor understood the hits of Madonna, sought help for a tumor on her vestibular nerve.  She used a friend, instead of a professional interpreter, in the first consultation ─ who erroneously told her that her tumor was cancerous. The fact is, it wasn’t!

Later, a surgeon unintentionally damaged Sandra’s nerve during the surgery, resulting in palsy on one side of her face. However, Sandra also knew that the tumor was never malignant. Poor Sandra, you should have used a professional interpreter!

And now, given how tragic the consequences of these translation mistakes could be, how on earth can companies avoid and prevent them?

How to Prevent Medical Document Translation Errors?

After 12 years of helping big brands in the medical, clinical and healthcare industry, we’d like to give medical companies a few tips about how to avoid medical document translation mistakes

1-Provide Good Source Content!

Ideally, there’s an important job for a medical business to do before they submit the translation project to their medical translation services partner. To carefully prepare their source files!

You’re supposed to provide your translation agency with source files that are comprehensive, concise, and perfectly proofread. Otherwise, they will waste a lot of precious time and effort in fixing your source material errors!

2-No Machine Translation for Medical Documents!

Will a successful healthcare provider use free online translation tools to have their medical reports and documents translated? Since the answer is big no, let’s move on to the next point!

3-Go to the Experts!

It’s logical that a successful company in the medical, clinical, pharma, and healthcare industry will not deal with amateurs, but will partner with a professional medical translation services vendor. This agency will certainly deliver accurate translation with high quality.

However, we have not yet drawn the outlines of what this professional medical translation services provider looks like. Let’s see!

What Does the Right Medical Translation Services Provider Look Like?

When you need to have one of your teeth filled, you’ll go to a dentist, not a gynecologist. Further, you’ll be looking for the best dentist in town, won’t you?! So, we, at AfroLingo, have a few tips for you to select the right medical translation services partner. Here they are.

1- Passionately Search for the Best!

Don’t take it easy. It’s tough.

You have to search for a medical document translation vendor with rock-solid experience in translating a broad diversity of medical content. Don’t go for a great translation agency with great expertise in translating, say, legal or technical materials.  

Also, you need to have a full picture of the translation process that this company follows. Select the translation vendor that has put in place a rigorous quality assurance system. Further, you should have an idea about this company’s turnaround time. Faster is better provided that speed goes with quality! And, prices matter. Continue searching until you settle for the most competitive price.  

2- ISO Certification

Back to quality assurance, you should choose a provider of medical document translation with relevant ISO certification, preferably ISO 17100, which means that this company has the resources, processes, and business methods that enable them to deliver high-quality services.

3-Project Manager is Essential

Since the area of medical translations needs a high standard of accuracy and precision, you have to select the translation services vendor that provides you with a project manager dedicated to your project.

And now that you have a rough idea about what a good medical translation services provider may look like, let’s see why hundreds of medical businesses choose the shining brand ─ AfroLingo?

Why AfroLingo?

A South Africa-based translation and localization services company, we deliver medical translation services in South Africa and Kenya into almost all major African, European, and Asian languages.

The medical industry is our first specialty. Hundreds of big companies in the pharmaceutical, medical, clinical, life sciences, biotech, and medical devices rely on AfroLingo to provide them with a clear, accurate translation of their high-value medical content.

All of these top-notch clients put their trust in our quality translation which is guaranteed by our rigorous quality assurance system and our ISO 17100 certification. They choose us also for our fast turnaround time and affordable, competitive prices.

Last but not least, we, at AfroLingo, take pride in our highly qualified, in-country, medical industry-specific team that comprises expert translators engaged in the medical field on a daily basis, with extensive, hands-on experience in the medical industry.

At AfroLingo, your medical translations are in good hands. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Why Should Your Translation Partner Have A Translation Memory System?

Why Should Your Translation Partner Have A Translation Memory System?

Over the past couple of years, technology has managed to change the face of multiple business sectors and revolutionize the traditional concepts of production. Powered by a rapid development in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the new technologies have become too powerful to ignore across various industries. The language industry was no exception; translation companies are now employing advanced digital tools to enhance the quality of their service offerings.

The most common translation technology was machine translation. Despite being powered by neural networks, machines failed to provide the same quality human translators produce. The best use of technology was then spotted in the creation of assistive tools that help human translators fulfill their tasks quickly and efficiently. One of these helpful and productive solutions is translation memory, a tool that leverages technology, eliminates duplication, increases consistency, and saves time.

What is a Translation Memory?

A translation memory, or TM, is defined as a database that stores any previously translated text and recalls it whenever needed. Translation memory software saves segments (words, sentences, or even paragraphs) with their translations and allows translators to reuse them when they are repeated in the same project or other following projects. Translation memory systems can be built for a single language-pair, a particular company, or a specific industry.

The translation memory is part of a broader translation management system that professional language companies use to improve their productivity levels. Together with glossaries and style guides, translation memories form the so-called computer-assisted technology (CAT) tools that help human linguists and save lots of time.

Generally speaking, translation memories are extremely useful for content that includes repetitive or duplicate texts or contain specialized terminology and need frequent updates. Software localization, for instance, is a language solution that takes huge advantage of translation memory software.

How Does it Work?

Unlike machine translation tools, translation memories are created by previous human translations and take care of the translation context. Once the linguist translates a new segment or string, translation memory saves it in both the source and target languages, making up what is known as a translation unit or TU. Whenever this unit shows up again, the translation memory automatically retrieves it, but what if it is not exactly the same?! 

Translation memories have the ability to recognize different translation matches. When a segment is identical (100% match) to the saved TU, they automatically replace it, but if the segment is just similar to the saved unit, or what is called “fuzzy match”, they only suggest the previous translation and leave space for human translators to give their input.

And so, every time a human translator translates a new segment, translation memory grows and enriches its library of terms and expressions. Given these powerful capabilities, translation memory has turned into a key asset in each professional language service provider.

What is in It for Me?

Now that you know what translation memory is and how it works, you must be wondering what are the benefits you would get when you hire a translation company that employs a translation memory? Well, these are three vivid reasons why a translation project would never be successful without a reliable translation memory tool:

  1. Speeding up the process

A translation memory saves translators the hassle of translating duplicated strings, and thus accelerates the translation process. Whenever a repetition occurs, translation can be automatically restored from the translation memory database, a step that deducts a lot from the translation turnaround time.

  1. Reducing the translation cost

Unlike you might expect, using translation memory systems saves you a big portion of the money. Since applying the translation memory tools cuts time and requires lower efforts, translation companies charge less when they use translation memories. In addition, the translation memory’s flexibility to work with different formats makes the process easier and less costly.

  1. Ensuring higher consistency

It is not professional to translate the same word or sentence differently in the same brand message. Consistency is important to create a professional content and establish a reputable image and this is only guaranteed when translation memory is available. This is especially true when different translators work on a large-scale project or a project that requires frequent updates.

Why AfroLingo?

We, at AfroLingo, are aware of how important a translation memory is and make use of it every time we receive a new professional translation or localization service request. In addition to a full suite of innovative CAT tools, our translators work with a wide range of cutting-edge translation memories to come up with a high-quality solution that meets our client needs.

Contact us now and fulfill your translation requirements with our fully-fledged language services in more than 20 African languages.

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New year celebrations in South Africa

New Year Celebrations in South Africa

As far as celebrations go, New Year in South Africa is up there as one of the best. The New year in South Africa is based around the Georgian Calendar and the whole event is filled with energy, color and an atmosphere that simply does not disappoint. When it comes to celebrating the coming of the New Year, South Africa really is the place to be.

Festivals and Parties Steal the Show

Seeing in the New Year in South Africa is as much about welcoming in the year as it is about having fun because there are many different festivals and parties that take place. Celebrating the New Year in South Africa is all about creating unforgettable memories and it all begins during the day. In the day, families will spend time together as well as companions and relatives where they prepare for the evening ahead. While partying and festivals are what many look for, there is also a large portion of the population that still like to spend it with their loved ones and so, celebrations can range from small to large but they occur right throughout the country.

In many areas, parties will take place right through the night, where they will eventually come to an end in the early hours of the morning. Of course, the celebration is underpinned by the passing of one year and the beginning of another but many people also choose to celebrate because it gives South African citizens that chance to take some relief from their normal, hectic schedules. Parties can include extravagant dinners where there is music and dancing, where the New Year is welcomed in style. Many of the dishes that are served during the celebrations reflect those dishes of tradition and the festivities that are being enjoyed by all.

Marking the turn of the year

When the clock strikes midnight and a New Year begins, it is common to hear church bells chime to declare the start of New Year. Once the bells have been chimed, the excitement and energy increases and many find that they become lost in the thrill of the moment.

In places such as Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, you will find the largest celebrations, where parties play amazing music, people love to dance, dine and drink and firework displays see in the New Year in style. However, events and festival such as the Rezonance New Years Eve Festival carry their own importance and an atmosphere that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is organised for New Year’s Eve and is a spectacular event in its own right but not just because of the celebrations it depicts but also the history of South Africa that dates back to the 19th century. Based around the slave culture that once gripped the nation, it actually pays homage to the fact that slaves were given holidays for New Year’s day so that they could celebrate it in their own way. Therefore, this lead to the celebration becoming a modern tradition and that is why the festival is embraced by all.

In Durban, the beautiful beaches are extremely popular during the New Year celebrations and during the period, the beaches are filled their maximum with parties on the beach and in the nightclubs that are located nearby.

In South Africa, New Year’s Eve is a big celebration and one that is embraced by all. Whether that is spent with family or our celebrating on the beaches of Durban, there is no better place to explore the wonders of New Year and the celebrations that come with it than South Africa.

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Worst translation in south africa

The Worst Translations You Have Ever Seen in South Africa

As online translation services began to explode onto the scene all those years ago, it left many believing that they no longer required the use professional translation services. When you consider that all it takes is to input your chosen text, choose the output language and your translated text appears like magic. Of course, as it has been translated by a website and therefore a computer that consists of clever algorithms, everyone believes that it has to be right. How wrong.

While online translation websites are good for translation words or sentences to gain a rough idea of what it might mean, they simply cannot be relied on. This is because you cannot beat using a real person who can provide you with the correct translation while providing equivalent words and meanings in the required language. Online translations are very hit and miss and often they are more miss than hit but that has given us plenty to laugh about over the years and it seems as though the fun isn’t stopping any time soon.

Why are wrong translations so hilarious?

They simply are because the translation is so far away from what it should actually say that it does not work. However, when you read the translation for what it is and actually realize that people have actually gone ahead and used it, it makes you wonder what they were thinking.

When you consider that airports in India are asking passengers to refrain from eating the carpet or that people are being offered Syrian paralysis cheese, you instantly realize that they have not used professional translators or interpreting services because the majority of English speakers will know that what they are reading is completely wrong. Still, when you consider that people are being asked not to eat the carpet you have to question who oversaw the translation of that particular sign.

The hilarity does not stop there because even news reporters are getting it wrong and that takes embarrassment to a whole new level.


What about Translation Mistakes in South Africa?

Well, the ridiculousness of the world of wrong translations does not stop there because even South Africa has had its fair share of embarrassing moments. There is even a translation error where a new reported got things terribly wrong while reporting on a drugs bust. As the report is initially being made in Afrikaans, the reported then decides to move onto an English translation and that is where things go downhill for him. This makes you wonder why they did not use professional translation services South Africa in order to make sure that the translation was correct and true. This would have meant that the report would have been shared across the internet for the right reasons instead of being shared many times for completely the wrong reasons.

The errors do not stop there in South Africa because back in 2005, Xhosa speakers in Western Cape had to put up with badly translated information signs and considering how bad the translations were, they should not be funny. Information signs are relied on by many and it makes you wonder why they did not use a translating and interpreting service to make sure that everything was completed correctly.

When you consider that an obstetrics department was called the “Department for Parents” or pamphlet based around the serious problem of aids was translated as “the Gift of Aids” it is clear to see just how important it is to get right. These are not small errors because they are errors that can cause serious problems for those who are affected by these issues. What also makes things even worse is that many banks and even government offices have failed to correctly translate documents proving that translation was once an area that was not considered by many in South Africa. Despite the seriousness of these errors, they have still had many people in South Africa sharing these hilarious translation fails around the world.

There is no doubt that these translations have got people laughing but there is a prominent message displayed here and that is the fact that translations have to be carried out correctly. Failure to get translations correct looks unprofessional and creates a buzz of excitement for all the wrong reasons.

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interpreting services south africa

Perceptions Of Interpreting In South Africa

In recent years, a lot has been done to make interpreting services look and feel more professional. This has been achieved through accreditation, training and research. However, there is still a belief that South African interpreters are incompetent and there are a number of reasons for this. However, translating and interpreting services are making great strides in the right direction but what are these perceptions still apparent?

The Underpinnings of this Perception

The industry was almost shaken to the core in recent years due to errors being made by interpreters in both the Oscar Pistorius trial and the Memorial Service of President Nelson Mandela. The whole world was watching and that severely tarnished the interpreting industry in South Africa. At this point, there were perceptions already formed about interpreting and translation services in South Africa and these were based around a lack of quality.

For the profession, this is a concern and these beliefs do not completely align themselves with the way in which the industry is making moves in the right direction. The profession has now been regulated and there is now a South African National Language Practitioners’ Council Act along with the development of training programmes for interpreters as well as research recommendations. All of this proves that a lot has been done for interpreting services in South Africa.


When did it all change?

When you have a profession that is unregulated, naturally this is going to create perceptions. As far back as 1999, it was recognized that interpreting services were not positioned in public domains including courts, the police service and even hospitals. Therefore, this lack of interpreting service did not leave the public feeling as though it was a profession that could be trusted and the fact that untrained interpreters were being used made it all feel as though it was lacking in any kind of professionalism.

The lack of interpreting services resulted in increased levels of misunderstanding and that lead to citizens being refused the information and assistance that they were entitled to. This once again strengthened the belief of the South African public. In those cases where interpreters were available there was a lack of understanding of the role they had to play and how it fitted in with the needs of the user and this resulted in frustration.


Has Much Changed?

While there is a general feeling of concern, especially when many of the news stories that shed a bad light on the profession are still available, there is an element of positivity surrounding the profession. Interpreter training has improved considerably and many more students are enrolling on interpreting courses at many institutions. There is an accreditation in place but it is not compulsory, so more could be done to address this issue.

There is also an increase in interpreting in the educational sector and many top universities now have classroom interpreting proving that it is no becoming mainstream in a more professional and consistent way.


What are the Skills an Interpreter Should Possess?

While there are many misconceptions of the industry, there is no doubt that the right changes are being made. From regulation through to the South African National Language Practitioners’ Council Act, interpreter and translation services are now beginning to sway the thoughts and feelings of the public in a positive way. So, what are the skills that an interpreter should possess? The following list is the main skills that interpreters should possess in order to carry out a professional and reliable service.

  • An enhanced knowledge and understanding of both languages.
  • A greater understanding of the terminology that is used in many different scenarios or situations
  • Skills that relate to interpreting, listening and analyzing.
  • The ability to deal with problems that might arise such as where there are no equivalents in the target language.
  • The ability to take notes where required in order to prevent them from asking witnesses to repeat what they have said.
  • Understanding where to position themselves in a courtroom as well as having an understanding of courtroom procedures.
  • They need to be able to conduct themselves professionally and consider the ethics of all involved.
  • Manage stress.
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transcription services South Africa

Transcription Industry – What you need to know

Transcription Industry

The world that we live in has become smaller than ever before because technology has enabled businesses and organisations to reach out to other businesses across the world. There is now a growing need to create a written record of audio files and that is where a transcription service is required.

Using online transcription services South Africa is popular across a wide range of fields including medicine, law and business as well as many others. It is an industry that is growing each year, due to the way in which transcription services are required more and more. If a business or an individual requires a written record of a webinar, a conference, an interview or even a court hearing then they will require the use of a transcription service.

Cape Town and Pretoria are one of the main business cities in South Africa, so when the requirements for Transcription Services in Cape Town or Transcription Services in Pretoria are really high and the competition between translation companies is on fire.

Facts about the industry now

1. The transcription industry is an intriguing and highly-skilled industry.

A professional transcriber can transcribe around 100 words per minute although transcribing around one hour of audio can take anything from 4 to 6 hours. Along with this, the way in which transcribers work has changed. Just twenty years ago, typing 40 words per minute was considered fast but now transcribers are now expected to reach 120 words per minute in some instances.

2. An increased level of accessibility

It becomes easy and accessible now to use transcription companies in South Africa because the whole process can be handled online. This makes the service efficient and effective.

3- Cost reduction

The industry also provides businesses with a way of reducing their overhead expenditures because transcription services make it possible for companies to reduce their expenses as they will not have to pay someone benefits, salaries or provide them with equipment.

4- Focus in details

A transcriber will be highly skilled in paying attention to the finer details of audio recordings. They will also be required to research any jargon that is associated with the industry for which they are working in.

Challenges of Transcription Services

There are always challenges to face in this industry as a transcription service will have to continue to keep up with the demands of a competitive industry. As more and more businesses or organisations require transcription services, they will need to deliver efficiently and efficiently.

However, one other challenge is the keeping costs competitive yet lucrative. Transcription services are increasing and that means that there is more competition but they also have to compete with computer transcription. This is something that won’t be a problem at the moment but there is no doubt that human transcription services are far better than anything that has been transcribed by a computer. Computers do not have the ability to understand any of the subtleties that a human transcriptionist can offer.

Future of Transcription Services

Every industry in the world changes as technology advances and the transcription industry is no different. However, what makes this industry so unique is that it really does need that enhanced level of human interaction in order for transcription jobs to be completed correctly. Despite this, it is likely that transcription services are going to be using voice recognition software to carry out transcription work, however, this still seems like it is far away from taking over.

It is also likely that transcriptionists are going to be needed even more which is great news for the industry. As the popularity of videos increases, the demand for qualified transcriptionists will also increase.

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International Translation Day

International Translation Day

Many of you might not know it but International Translation Day 2018 is now fast upon us. The day which is dedicated to the occupation of translators will strike once again on the 30th of September. It will celebrate the unique talents and the dedication to their field that translators all over the world have provided for their occupation over the many years.

On this day, we and other translation organizations on a global scale will not only be celebrating how translation helps to allow cross-country communications but also how the industry as a whole has been growing on the great continent of Africa.

It might not be a day that is as internationally recognized as many others but for those that have worked tirelessly to break down language barriers across the world, it is a day we look forward to as it brings all of us in the community much closer together.

The History of International Translation Day

International Translation Day has now been since running each year since 1953 and it was initially set up to not only show the solidarity in the profession but also to help it grow and evolve in countries worldwide.

The date of the feast of St. Jerome was chosen as the day to celebrate this each year (the 30th of September) and this was the logical choice as he is considered the patron saint of translators.

It is widely known that translation services in the past would focus on major European languages with the rest of the world being largely forgotten. The African continent with so many languages was one that was previously neglected in the industry but over the years there has been a sea of change.

We at AfroLingo as well as the many other excellent translation companies on the continent are now in a position to be able to offer our services on a much wider scale. This is only good news for the industry and of course, the many millions of people that live across the continent.

The Rise of the Translation Industry Across Africa

The Translation Industry in South Africa is one that we at AfroLingo have obviously been a part of for many years now and we are delighted with how the industry seems to be progressing. As many of you will know, Africa is one of the most linguistically diverse continents on the planet which means that providing translation services here is challenging to say the least.

Initially, at AfroLingo and probably at other translation companies, most translations that were ordered would normally be that of cross-border visa, medical and legal documents. However, that has all changed in the last ten years which is great news for the industry and for the continent as a whole.  

Increase in Demand for Translation Services

The demand for translations right across each country on the continent is growing at a rapid rate due to advances in technology and a reduction in what this technology costs. While many people still live on or are very close to the poverty line, as technology such as internet access and mobile phones reduces, more and more people are being given access to information, content and apps.

What this means for companies is that if they wish to be able to reach out to the huge populations of people on this beautiful continent, they are going to need translation services to provide this information, content and apps to be displayed in the required languages.

This not only helps to create jobs and improve business in Africa but opens the country up to major corporations to be able to reach the wonderful people of Africa with their products and services.

Translation Going Forward for AfroLingo

We aim to continue to be at the forefront of this growing industry in South Africa and the continent as a whole and hope to be able to help connect as many people with their translation needs as possible.

As technology advances, the world of translation and what it can bring to cultures and communities open up further. This is something that we are extremely proud to be a part of and we are also thrilled and excited to see where it can go in the future.

An increase in the connectivity between African nations with the rest of the world can only be seen as a good thing and we are massively looking forward to celebrating this notion on the 30th of September.

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