Medical Translation course by Asetrad, Madrid: a few extracts (Part I)

As promised, here I am, back from Madrid and days of tapas and nice cerveza – and of course coffee.



I have to say the weather was a bit on the British side (rainy and cold-ish) but I still managed to enjoy the change of scenario if only for a few days.

There’s no need for me to write the details of the course again, but in case you feel lost you can still go back to this post and have a refresher.

The 2-day course (el cursillo) was a very inspiring experience, with 60+ participants and bucketloads of enthusiasm. Given the blatant success of the event, we all hope there would be a cursillo número 2 soon.


It would be impossible to tell you everything we did and learn, but I’ll give a few hints on what were the most interesting bits and pieces of the event.

Fernando A. Navarro – a doctor and surgeon, specialist in clinical pharmacology, who is also a skilled medical translator and, last but not least, author of many publications and especially dictionaries of the field – kicked off the course with an introduction on the concept of ‘fidelity’. To which extent are translators supposed to stick to the original text, maintaining ‘naturalidad, precisión and claridad ( = natural flow, accuracy and clarity)? The main problem arises when translators face a text showing mistakes of different type – especially of a conceptual nature. A spelling mistake is often frowned upon but still accepted as it can be easily spotted and edited. But… what to do when the text features an alleged (or totally obvious!) medical-related mistake, that may lead to serious consequences when gone to press? It’s a tricky one: the translator has (in theory, at least) no authority to ‘change’ the text unless duly authorised to do so. Nevertheless, in some cases it is advisable to raise a hand and let the relevant people know. The general rule is: when in doubt, the best thing to do is trying to contact to author and always, always ask.

For our own entertainment (and now yours!) Fernando shared with us a few sentences (taken from real publications by real doctors) and we had to try and ‘spot the mistake’. Here are a few examples:

1. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

2. Five males and sex females were included in the study.

3. Is your son rubella immune?

Another point considered in the workshop was the etymology of medical terminology. As many of you may know, the jargon of medicine in Romance languages owes most terms to Greek and Latin structures. English and Germanic languages, on the other hand, evolved in a different direction, and it is extremely interesting to see how English and German developed periphrasis and expressions that are indeed much more direct than in Italian or Spanish to express the same meaning. This is the case of words like Knochenzelle ->> osteocito (It and Sp) or breast reshaping ->> mastoplastica (It) and mamoplastia (Sp). If you think the Neolatin languages just ‘complicate it’, you may be surprised when knowing the truth. Indeed – as Fernando Navarro explained – the average ‘ciudadano de a pie’ (= the so-called Joe Bloggs) in Italy or Spain (or France) would use the Greek/Latin term because THAT is the common wording – getting it right it’s of course another story 🙂

So, how would you say these in your language? A few examples into Italian underlining the use of Greek and Latin compounds.

a. ENT doctor ->> otorinolaringoiatra

b. blood doctor ->> ematologo

c. chest X-ray ->> radiografia toracica

d. heart disease ->> cardiopatia

e. eye specialist ->> oftalmologo, oculista

This section also involved the challenging feat of participating in a collective practical task: translating a medical prescription (often hand-written!).

Here is an example:


First appt.

C/O: RUQ pain for 2/52 increased abd perimeter and constipation, with chills and jaundice since yesterday. No melaena or coffee ground vomit. No white stools. Had a fall 2 w ago. O/E: T 100 F. Alcoholic breath, spiders. CVS: p 84, reg. BP 100/70, oedema up to both knees, no raised JVP. RS: NAD. GIS: generalised distensions, tender RUQ, ascites, no guarding, no rebound. CNS: no flapping tremor.


And this should be enough for you to realize why this course was useful! I can say I know feel a bit more familiar with the concept of medical translation but still loads of work is to be done (!)

I will stop for now but more will come in the next posts. 

See you later!




Rainy London-theme cushion? Yes, please! (aka: a quiet morning at Rainy London’s HQ)

I know it’s trivial…


but tell me it wouldn’t look gorgeous (and very apt) in the office and I’ll shut up. Promised.

Click here for the website where you can get one.





Medical Translation course run by Asetrad in lovely Madrid (19-20 Nov 2010)

As most of you may know, one of my work languages is Spanish.

I am a member of Asetrad, that this year is organising a very interesting course on traducción médica in Madrid.

I have to say I usually do not get up & close with medical translation, but we all know how important this field is. I’m thinking of the many people in the world who are in need of medical assistance and for some reason cannot speak English. It is their right to be able to read medical documents and prescriptions, for instance, in their mother tongue. And here both translators and interpreters come into action.

En fin, just a short post to share this thought with you. And as I haven’t been to Spain for a while, the course by Asetrad seemed to tick all the boxes.

For more info, check the link here (Spanish).

P.S.: I promise I will try to report on it as soon as I’m back!


Running a translation & interpreting business in the UK (aka the English version of Val’s interview from

As I do know that most of my readers are not Italian mother tongues, as I promised, here is the English version of my interview at, by Aldo Mencaraglia. Pls see previous post for more info.

Interview by Aldo Mencaraglia.

By setting up a translation business in the UK, Valeria Aliperta has shown what it takes to be successful abroad.

How did you become a translator?

Following a passion that dates back to when I was little (at 12, I already had a serious fixation for English and languages in general, and spent my first 2 weeks in England, studying in a college), I decided to attend a language-based high school (the liceo linguistico) where we learnt English, Spanish and French for a total of 18 hours a week. Still in love with a language-related career, I went to Genoa and obtained a BA in Translation & Interpreting Studies. After a 3-year course, I moved to Forlì (Bologna): quoting Giacomo Leopardi’s words, they were years of studio matto e disperatissimo (crazy and desperate studying), which led to obtaining the MA in Conference Interpreting at SSLMIT. Yes, I am indeed both a translator and interpreter.

What brought you to England and Exeter in particular?

A period of insane love for all Spain and Spanish things – it’s still there, trust me! – kept me away from Albion for a while. But in 2005 I started a work placement in a London-based agency and that was enough: again, love at first sight. I went back to the UK and among university, holidays and work, there you go, it was 2006.
My brand is telling it all about England – Rainy London Translations – but Exeter came along, once again, for love: my partner has been working here as a web designer for 3 years and since then, Devon has been my home.

What is the procedure to start a business in the UK?

It was fairly easy. Those who start working here – or are willing to – need to get a National Insurance Number. Candidates need to visit a Job Centre for an interview on they country of origin, arrival date and stay, and so on and so forth. Once you are ‘legally’ registered – as EU citizen, for me it was very easy but nationals of non-EU countries need visas – the wait is approximately 4 weeks or so before you are sent the NIN. Unless you are hired by a company, you need to register (using that number) as a sole trader on the HMCR website. I opted for professional accounting services for my tax return but anybody can do it personally. Above an income threshold of £10k per year, it’s worth setting up a limited company (Ltd). Accounting admin fees are around £500 a year, whilst setting up a business with Companies House is approximately £200 (one-off payment) – all this in 2 weeks! All you need is a ready-to-use ‘brand name’ to register the ltd: mine shows the love for London and the trademark rain of the City, summarised in the London Eye icon.

Can you tell us the difference between this and the Italian procedure?

All I can say is that in Italy the paperwork is much longer, not to mention taxes: 21% in the UK against a jaw-dropping 44% (more or less) in Italy! Plus pension contributions and the likes… I would not suggest it to anyone!

Pros and cons of being an entrepreneur in the UK?

I can only talk about the pros, so far! I hope I won’t need to take this back in the near future! 

What websites would you recommend for those who are willing to follow your steps?

The ones I mentioned above and the professional associations I belong to:

Chartered Institute of Linguists (IoL)

Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI)

and last but not least… Rainy London Translations

Thanks Aldo for including me in your blog!

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