Numbers and Letters: The Importance of Scientific Translation

 In The Perks of Being a Wordplower
Take a moment to think about how many people are working to make advances in science. A new discovery here, an experiment there. And what happens when you combine the two? The result is a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.


Well sure, but what about when scientific progress comes from different parts of the world and in different languages?


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It’s not that easy, Lindsay Lohan. Numbers are universal, but most everything else is not. When it comes time to share their discoveries with the world, scientists and researchers want to make sure that they reach as many people as possible. To do that, their work needs to undergo a linguistic adaptation, i.e. scientific translation. You might not know it, but among all of the translation specializations out there, few demand more respect than translating scientific documents.


  • What is scientific translation?


Scientific translation encompasses a wide range of documents generally characterized by a distinctive and objective language with immensely complex terminology. Furthermore, these documents often use abbreviations and cover specialized concepts. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the authors of these texts as well as their intended audience are very knowledgeable on the subject.


So, how do all these factors play into scientific translation? Above all, these characteristics demand a high-quality, accurate translation. Consequently, the translators who predominantly work with these types of texts have to be specialized. This means that not only are they experts in translation, but also in the subject matter in question.


  • What types of documents generally comprise scientific translation?


Traditionally, the most translated texts in this field are scientific and academic articles published by researchers to inform the public of their findings. The results of clinical trials and experiments also need to undergo a process of linguistic adaptation. The same goes for manuals and technical guides. And the list goes on.


And let’s not forget that in the scientific community there is also a demand for specialized interpreting. In recent years we’ve seen a rise in scientific seminars and webinars that act as summits between experts. In many such cases a professional interpreter is needed.


Some of the branches we can find under the umbrella of scientific translation are:
  • Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Biology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Astronomy
  • Psychology
  • Geology
  • Neuroscience
  • Zoology


And this is just a fraction of all the branches out there. Interestingly, the vastness of this field imposes certain limitations, both in and out. I’ll explain.


A professional translator with experience in medicine could translate a list of medical instruments since he/she is familiarized with the terminology. This doesn’t mean, however, that the translator will have sufficient knowledge to accurately translate a text on astronomy. Inversely, this example also demonstrates that scientific translation may not be feasible for unspecialized translators. To produce an accurate translation, one needs to have full command of the subject matter.


  • Why is this so important?


We’ve stressed this point multiple times already and here’s why: we’re dealing with exact sciences. The slightest variation could contaminate the rest of the work. Even the smallest of errors needs to be avoided since the consequences are potentially fatal. If you don’t believe us, just read our terrifying tale “Because of one little error” HERE.


At Exero Soluciones we have an extensive network of collaborators, many of which are experts in a vast range of scientific fields, which enables us to cover practically all language pairs. We can give wings to your research and help your discoveries reach all corners of the world.


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That’s all for today’s article, we hope you enjoyed it! Leave any comments or questions down below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to stay up to date on future articles.  Hasta pronto!
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