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Translation and Meaning. New Series, Vol. 2, Pt. 2

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Edited By Łukasz Bogucki, Barbara Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Marcel Thelen

The volume contains a selection of articles on current theoretical issues in audiovisual translation, translator training and domain-specific issues. The authors are experts in their fields from renowned universities in the world. The book will be an indispensable aid for trainers and researchers, but may be of interest to anyone interested or active in translation and interpreting. A companion volume in this series contains articles on Translation Studies and literary translation.

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Extra-textual Expert Knowledge and Decoding the Meaning in Medical Texts

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Abstract: The language of medicine in English is characterised by being concise, this conciseness frequently resulting from a profusion of compound nouns or combinations of accumulated adjectives and nouns that are not linked by prepositions, for instance: ‘decreased mitral annular plane systolic excursion’ or ‘mitral systolic lateral annular velocity’. This linguistic condensation can become a challenge for translators in terms of understanding the meaning of phrases solely on the basis of linguistic material and competence. Often the meaning of such word clusters can be decoded only at the referential level by activating expertise knowledge in a given medical area. Once decoded, the meaning of a phrase needs to be re-expressed in the target language, which requires perfect knowledge of the target language terminology so as not to produce understandable, but unnatural translation. In Polish the language of medicine is often more descriptive, thus perhaps the meaning is easier to comprehend by the translator who lacks expertise knowledge. Nevertheless, when translating into English one needs to avoid syntagmatic translation. To exemplify: ‘zatorowość tętnic płucnych’ is ‘pulmonary embolism’ rather than ‘embolism of lung arteries’. This paper sets to analyse selected examples of problematic word clusters, taken mainly from the presentation devoted to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, such as ‘inconsistent follow-through’ or ‘cognitive damage’, to demonstrate the difficulty in and, sometimes, impossibility of decoding the meaning without moving beyond the linguistic level. Additionally, the analysed examples will show that, once the meaning is understood, the translation of medical language...

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