Terminological Inconsistency in Medical Translation from English into Arabic

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Journal Title, Volume, Page: 
An-Najah National University
Year of Publication: 
Heba Yaseen
Current Affiliation: 
Department of English Language and Literature ,Faculty of humanities, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
Preferred Abstract (Original): 

This  study  tackles  the  problem  of  terminological  inconsistency  in translating English medical terms into Arabic, which is defined as  the lack of    consistency  in  the  selection  of  terms  or  assigning  different  translations to  the  same  SL  terms  throughout  a  text  or  across  relevant  texts.  The purpose of the present study is to display how factors of terms usability and circulations,  the  type  of  the  target  audience  and  the  context  of  translation have an important role in lessening terminological inconsistency to a large extent,  and,  hence,  they  should  be  taken  into  account  when  determining which  type  of  equivalence  should  be  used  to  serve  as  a  translation  for  a single English medical term. 

The  representative  data  were  collected  from  seven  Arabic  and translated  medical  books,  two  medical  dictionaries  of  Hitti’s  and  the Unified  Medical  Dictionary  (UMD)  and  35  drug  package  inserts  (DPIs).  Such data sources were chosen in an attempt to compare between the most successful  type  of  translational  equivalence  in  specialized  vs.  non- specialized contexts. Data collection also  involved interviews with doctors in  which  valuable  insights  about  the  medical  translation  process  from English  into  Arabic  in  general  were  obtained,  and  telephone  interviews with  Palestinian  pharmaceutical  companies  in  which  a  full  description  of the  process  of  translating  DPIs  into  Arabic  was  provided.  Also,  a questionnaire,  targeting  a  sample  of  100  Arab  doctors  in  Nablus  and Ramallah  districts,  was  developed  to  measure  the  circulation  of  different types  of  equivalence  for  English  medical  terms  in  both  contexts,  i.e. communication  among  doctors  and  medical  staff  vs.  doctor-patient interaction.  The  questionnaire  also  included  an  open  question  to  give sample  population  the  chance  to  present  their  attitudes  toward  translating medical terms into Arabic.

The  study  has  shown  that  there  were  five  types  of  terminological inconsistency  in  relation  to  the  three  different  types  of  equivalence,  i.e. transliterated,  arabized,  and  descriptive  equivalences.  It  has  been  also found  that  the  most  used  type  of  equivalence  in  specialized  contexts  was the  transliterated  equivalence  while  descriptive  translations  reported  the highest rate of circulation in non-specialized contexts. Arabization reported low  rates  of  use  in  both  contexts.  The  study  assessed  the  validity  of  the fourth  and  latest  edition  of  UMD  and  has  concluded  and  emphasized  its usefulness  as  it  serves  as  the  closest  official  Arabic  medical  resource  to everyday  medical  practices.  The  study  has  also  concluded  that approaches of  medical  translation  into  Arabic  should  not  be  prescriptive  but  rather descriptive  and  complying  with  the  Arabic  language  structure  if terminological inconsistency in medical Arabic is to be overcome.

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