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Specialist field - medical / medical examiner / Coroner


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Neuropathology - Michael Schumacher / to translate the phrase airlift

Aus aktuellem Anlass - due to recent events.
Michael Schumacher in hospital in Grenoble (France) after a skiing accident. Lets wish him 'Gute Besserung'- 'Get well soon' 

As a translator working in the medical field, this case for me is particularly interesting, as I watch the news reports in both England and Germany and compare the words used for the medical conditions and how they are translated. 

As always, the purpose of the translation needs to be assessed, and in this case it is for the press / news reports. Therefore, the words used are the once used in 'common language'. A medical text translated for a medical professional will contain mainly the medical terminology of the word (Fachsprache).

Here are a few phrases relating to neuropathology:

cerebral contusions
induced coma
künstliches Koma
traumatic brain injury
Cranial- / skull
Hirnhaut / Schädel

As often with medical words, some remain the same in German, albeit differ slightly in the spelling


The translate the phrase ' to airlift ' 

English: airlift (to the hospital)

I found that there is no direct translation of this verb, but what is used is rather a description of what's actually happening: 

German: mit dem Hubschrauber (ins Krankenhaus) fliegen

fliegen is simply the German word for 'to fly' and in order to express 'to airlift',  the German phrase translated word by word is 'with the helicopter (to the hospital) fly

Of course, as it is now very common in Germany, and especially in the media, the actual English word is often used directly. Those words than still need to adhere to the German grammar rules, and, in my opinion, it than starts to sound slightly odd (but maybe this is only me as I've lived in an only-English speaking environment for too long and find it odd to see those verbs with German grammar endings)

Er wurde ins Krankenhaus ge-airliftet. 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Causes of death German to English

A recent translation for the Coroner on unnatural causes of death. 

Schuss- und Stichverletzungen
Gunshot wounds / Stab wounds
Aspiration Pneumonia
Foreign Object Aspiration
Ertrinken - Badetod
Schäden durch Strom oder thermische Einwirkng
Electrocution or exposure to extreme heat/cold
Tod durch Verhungern
Aspyxie-Tod – allgemeiner Sauerstoffmangel
Aspyxia – generalised hypoxia

Note that I did not translate Ertrinken as Drowning but Immersion. 

Drowning is a mode of dying and on the death certificate it is not the mode of dying, but the medical cause of death which is recorded. Important difference that I have to explain very often as a Coroner's officer. 

While the causes of death were easily translated, I had more trouble with the accompanying texts. The law in Germany and England differs significantly. In England, the Coroner has a legal duty to investigate death where it is believed that it occurred from not natural causes. In Germany it is the duty of the Staatsanwaltschaft (= Public Prosecutor). However, the scope and powers of the Coroner in England are far wider in regards to sudden death. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Equivalence at word level.

English : car
German : Auto

Simple. But there are so many more words to describe a car in both languages, so it's the skill of the translator to find the appropriate word for the text and the context which is to be translated.

neutral: car, automobile, motor,
specific:limousine, convertivle, truck, pick-up, hatchback,
slang / derogatory:  banger, ride, gas guzzler

neutral: Auto, Automobile, Personenkraftwagen
specific: Limosine, Lastkraftwagen, Cabrio,
slang / derogatory: Kutsche, Klapperkasten, fahrbahrer Untersatz, Schlitten, Schrottkiste

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Patrone -- Patron (false friend)

There a quite a few examples of 'false friends', i.e. you think you know the translation or what it roughly means, but you couldn't be more wrong. I saw the word 'patron' in a restaurant today ('Would patrons please leave quietly after 11am'}, and for the German speaker, this is a definite 'false friend'- no cartridges in this restaurant :)

Patron (English)   = Stammkunde (German)
Patrone (German) = Cartridge (English)

Teach Yourself Urdu

A Book Recommendation
Teach Yourself Urdu by David Matthews and Mohamed Kasim Dalvi

If you are a beginner learning Urdu, this is the book to get. Though I am lucky that I have an Urdu-speaking husband and spend time in Pakistan and with Pakistani relatives, this book will give you 'the ground-work', the vocabulary, the grammar.

The book comes with a CD which I did not get as my husband is able to assist with pronunciation, so I have to exclude this in my review, but would obviously say - get the CD if you don't have CONSTANT access pronunciation / speaking help.

The book starts by giving a brief history on Urdu, and than the first unit deals with the alphabet. You have work through it - it is no use trying to learn or understand Urdu in 'English(Roman) writings'. It does look daunting, but  is actually not that hard. After that, 15 chapters deal with learning Urdu in the usual language book learning manner i.e. starting off easy and getting more challenging. Grammar is included from the 1st chapter, and that is good so. My experience - pay good attention to the grammar right from the start. Within a few weeks I was comfortably able to recognise words I learned in Hindi movies on the TV and able to apply it to my Urdu speaking (much to husband's delight). As with other language learning, you do have to stay on the ball though, and if you have a longer break away from it, you may find you have forgotten the letters, which dots to go where.... But it is easy enough to pick up.

The book is rather small, and while this is ideal for taking with you, it can also be a challenge to properly see the Urdu writing - and this is unfortunately somewhat essential with a non-Roman script. Also, my copy fell apart after a few weeks, and I stuck the pages together with sellotape. Again and again.

All and all, I found the book invaluable with my Urdu learning and for me, it is the best one on the market (and believe me, I have lots!)

The small print: This review has also been posted on Amazon Reviews

Sunday, 17 June 2012

cardiac/respiratory failure

This week I translated a death certificate for a Coroner's office in SE England of an unfortunate gentleman who had passed away whilst on holiday in Germany. The Coroner has to satisfy himself that the death of the person was natural and no further investigation is needed.

1a) zentrales regulationsversagen = cardiac/ respiratory failure

1a) Hyposischer Hirnschaden =Hypoxic brain damage / brain stem death

1b) koronelle 3 -Gefaesse Erkrankung = Triple vessel coronary artery disease

The death certificate also featured 'Reanimation' (= resuscitation), but I did not feel that was relevant for the purpose of the English death certificate, as the above clearly shows a natural cause of death. I did inform my client, of course, that I did not include it within the certificate.