The unmissable ‘Oh, I really need a cuppa now’ Competition! (AKA: Rainy London’s website is almost 3) !

Oh well….Rainy London’s website* will be soon 3 years old! – I know! Time flies indeed! As I’ve had loads of good comments for our cute Rainy’s cups – btw: thanks for that, folks! – I’ve decided it’s time to run a new competition for you to win one.

HOW TO JOIN? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy:

1) follow @rainylondon on Twitter or like us on Facebook – now!

2) take a walk down your memory lane and look for the funniest thing ever happened to you.  

It can be a translation- or non-translation related fun fact, a weird request from a client, simply an epic foot in the mouth or a hilarious sentence/quote/idea you overheard somewhere – that brought you the conclusion: ‘Oh I really need a cuppa now’.

Just make sure it’s true and even better if you experienced it yourself. And also, you can use any media that reinforce your point! Just send that episode/story/joke/idea in and end it with ‘Oh I really need a cuppa now’ to be in for ONE of these gorgeous cups! (for how to use, see below – the truly Italian way).


My dear colleague @erik_hansson once posted a funny story on FB that made me LOL and read more or less like this:

Client: Can I have this text translated from Swedish into English?
Erik: But this is Finnish.
Client: Does it make any difference?
I’m sure at this point Erik thought:  <Oh I really need a cuppa now>

Well, I hope it’s all nice and dandy – and clear…

So, get cracking on it and keep entries coming on Twitter (using the #RainyCuppaComp hashtag; on Facebook, just mention Rainy London using “@” on your post) Of course, e-mails are more than welcome too: info[AT]rainylondontranslations[dot]com The coolest, funniest, most entertaining entry will get a sweet Rainy Cup delivered at home 🙂
And remember, the comp ends on Wed 8 Feb.

Well, ready, steady, …COFFEE! And the spread the love!


* With the precious help of @artscode / @cocorino, Rainy London’s website will hopefully undergo major works for a revamping this year… so stay tuned!

Medical Translation course by Asetrad, Madrid 2011: another year, another course!

Ok, first of all sorry for my long absence since I’ve attended this course… sometimes I wish time would extend and multiply, to achieve days of 48 hrs – where 15 are for sleeping, at least.

To cut it short: I have been desperate to update you on the last trip and course, which was sort of half way between a sequel/complementary course to the one I went to last year.
Asetrad organised a 2-day workshop with Fernando Navarro*.

I went with good friend and colleague Livia, met the nicest of people (@aidagda, @playmobiles, @sanirameneri @juliacgs @judcarrera) who pampered us and showed us the most important of things when abroad: where to eat (well). Gracias, ¡divinas!

The venue was a nice, central Husa hotel and the subject was ‘Mistakes of the medical jargon‘ and ‘The anglicization of Spanish‘. As you may know, this course was done considering English and Spanish only but as a fluent speaker of the latter – and a sucker for challenges – I always try to make the most of occasions and find relations to Italian, if any.
I could speak for ages about the good points of this event but I’ll try and make a good summary.

Just as my good colleague Aida said in her entry on the subject, it was good the event had practical parts, where the ever-funny Fernando showed us how the medical lexicon should be used properly – and how sometimes the mistake is at the source.

Far from knowing all about the medical translation now, it is clear that:

  • it’s always good to know a bit more of the substances mentioned in the files ie. sometimes, realizing a word is used mistakenly instead of a similar-sounding one, can really ‘save lives’ – no pun intended!
  • the medical language should leave no room for double interpretation. English tends to use the same word over and over  eg. cancer even when synonyms are available (tumor). This is not the case in SP or IT, for instance, where the approach to repeated words entails using different words to make the text flow better. That’s totally fine, provided we choose our words right.
  • Again, a bit of knowledge of medicine always helps. One of the examples Fernando showed us saw a journalist writing about a person forced on her wheel-chair due to arteriosclerosis when he obviously meant Multiple Sclerosis, instead.
  • Another one: quinine and quinidine are substances used for very different purposes: one is used for malaria the other one is an anti-arrhythmic agent.

<< A funny part of the course was the one dedicated to examples taken from the press or published work, where the medical jargon was used as a metaphor – with unhappy results!
eg. This dangerous virus is a real cancer of our society – too much medicine in one line… such a bad lexicon choice!

On the other hand, a nice expression to remember is something thas is the ‘spine‘ of something else eg. in IT: questo concetto è la spina dorsale di tutta la sue teoria. Just some food for thoughts.

The lesson learnt? Medicine-based metaphors are strong and meaningful, so use them carefully. And above all, not when you are talking about medicine!

<< English tends to use less formal words than romance languages so it’s important to make sure that the Italian or Spanish version, for example, use the right word for the right audience, too.
And here the issue of ‘mistakes’. False friends are very common:

EN anhtrax = ES carbunco, NOT ántrax
EN plague = ES peste, NOT plaga
EN sulphur = azufre, NOT sulfuro

<< A common point of medical jargon is the use/reference to Greek and Latin. But you’ll be surprised to know that other languages ‘invented’ terms used in this world, too:
Dutch: drug
Portuguese: albinism
Amerindian: guanine
German: Mastozyt, mast cell
Interesting, isn’t it?

<< Some words that ‘sound’ English are commonly used in Spanish (and in Italian, let me add); some are related to the medical world – but not only! Some examples below:

– piercing
– kit (in the RAE dictionary)
– doping
– copyright
– scanner
– show
– spa
– hobby
– DJ
– relax
– screening
– spray
– staff
– test
– pool
– standard
– jeep
– lobby
– thriller

Also, funnily enough Spanish and Italians use words like ‘footing‘ (meaning: jogging) thinking they’re being smart when in fact this word has been taken from the English and then adapted…

We touched on anglicisms, too. They may be:
1. phonetic: eg. Nike, WiFi read in ES and IT as they are; this also works with words of other origin, like Sahara, Westfalia etc.

2. orthographic: EN colorectal = has 2 ‘R’s in ES ( = colorrectal); benzene = can be mistaken with benzeno, while it should have a ‘c’ instead of the ‘z’.

3. typographic: eg. using capital letters in titles, when both Italian and Spanish do not need that.

4. syntactic: articles to begin a sentence are common both Italian and Spanish, while English does not need any; the use of periphrastic constructions, not very fluent in both Italian and Spanish but common in EN; word order, a common mistake that EN into SP and IT translators may fall into, eg. Real Madrid Club de Futbol. Why? It’s supposed to read Club de Futbol Real Madrid! or again, cienciaficción (science fiction; but: fantascienza in IT).

5. lexical: ie. loan translations at their best!

Eg. volleyball = balón voleo <cringing> and others, used as nouns:
– peeling
– lifting
– doping
– screening
– marketing
– zapping
– parking
– consulting

My fave is: puenting! ( = taking a long weekend off, usually when a bank holiday occurs).
These are very hard to fight – if we may say so – especially when nuances and different meaning or tones come into the game. Eg. ‘aggressive’ in EN is positive sometimes, meaning energetic or full of verve. In Spanish and Italian, an aggressive person is only violent. The same is valid for ‘ambition‘ = in ES ambición is usually negative, and can be replaced by determinación, aspiración; in IT as far as I know, is both negative and positive, depending on context.

6. graphic: eg. STOP in road signs. It’s supposed to be universal but in Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Brasil, it’s PARE; in Mexico and some parts of Central America, ALTO.

<< An interesting part was the one devoted to acronyms and abbreviations.

A&E – (UK) Accidents and Emergencies / (USA) ER / IT: Pronto Soccorso / ES: Urgencias
IV – intravenous / intravenoso
PR – per rectum (exam) / ES: tacto rectal
PV – per vaginam (exam)  / ES: tacto vaginal
FBc – full blood count  / IT: emogramma completo / ES: emograma completo
U & Es – urine and electrolites / IT: urea ed elettroliti / Es: urea y electrolitos
LFT – live function test / IT: esame della funzione epatica / ES: test función hepática
white cells – IT: leucociti o globuli bianchi / ES: leucocitos o glóbulos blancos
MR – always a surgeon in the UK
Abdo pain – IT: dolor abdominal / ES: dolor abdominal
Ultrasound scan – IT/ES: ecografia/ecografía
(to) clerk in: IT: ricoverare / ES: ingresar

<< Some interesting / funny links:

  1.… (sorry, apparently not available on this link at the moment…)

So, yet to conclude: by no means this summary is comprehensive but hey, this is a complicated (and fascinating) field that would deserve many subtle explanations and detailed articles.
After all, even Bécquer got it wrong when he said the ‘pupila‘ was ‘azul‘ (as Fernando mentioned, it’s the iris that bears the coloured pigment, not the pupil).

I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless!

* Fernando Navarro: Licenciado en medicina y cirugía y médico especialista en farmacología clínica, pero colgó la bata blanca en 1993 para dedicarse profesionalmente a la traducción médica. Es socio de honor de Asetrad, coordinador de la bitácora Laboratorio del lenguaje y autor del Diccionario crítico de dudas inglés-español de medicina (2.ª edición; Madrid: McGraw-Hill·Interamericana, 2005), Traducción y lenguaje en medicina (Barcelona: Esteve, 1997), Parentescos insólitos del lenguaje (Madrid: Del Prado, 2002) y más de quinientos artículos en revistas especializadas sobre teoría y práctica de la traducción médica y los problemas del lenguaje médico. Recientemente, ha desempeñado la coordinación técnica del Diccionario de términos médicos (2011) de la Real Academia Nacional de Medicina)

MY 2012 RESOLUTIONS – aka: live a little (better)

Happy New Year! Buon Anno! ¡Próspero año! (etc etc, won’t bug you with all the others… n_n)

I hope most of you got my Xmas card… I loved them! I think @artscode has done yet again an excellent work.

If the Mayan were wrong


this year is important as I will turn 30 (!). Jokes apart, I like the arrival of a new year, it feels so empowering and inspiring. This feeling usually does not last long O_o but at least that’s how it works for me at its very beginning. And just like every single soul I know on this earth, I always draft a New Resolutions’ list.

This year it took me more time, as it usually is ready by December (at least in my mind). But here they are!


  • Read more – and not only the files I’m translating!
  • Listen better (sorry to those who I unwillingly cut off and overlap with my voice! I do not mean it!) – and not only to speakers I’m interpreting in the booth
  • Travel more – and not only to improve language skills or attend a tweet-up (even though the latter is fun!)
  • Have a tidy-ish office – and maybe try harder to be minimal. I know people say I’m tidy already but it’s the ‘live minimal’ that I can’t quite achieve… (but I’m always inspired by Laura‘s
  • Go to the gym – not only *pay* the fee O_o
  • Stay in touch with those who count – by that, I do not mean those counting numbers per se, like accountants and taxmen, but real friends and family
  • Be positive – not only because the Trados analysis is reading ‘100% matches’
  • Eat well – that means good food but SMALLER PORTIONS OF IT
  • Give more time to me, to my loved ones and to… well, sleeping!
  • Update my status – and I’m talking not just Facebook’s! Do things, see people, think positive and believe in the future. Even though it’s all about gloom and doom around us these days.

They seem easy enough points – and rather obvious ones, too! I will try hard. Harder than any other time I tried (not hard enough) in the past.

What are yours?



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