Lingo Woman's useful resources for freelance translators #2: The Trem├ędica glossary

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I often translate medical reports from French, Italian and Spanish into English and find that they are littered with abbreviations. Those doctors are in a rush you see. Not a minute to spare. They need to get everything recorded as speedily as possible. That's not the only reason of course; abbreviations are used by health professionals as a way of communicating in a universally understandable way.

This isn't a problem when you know what they're on about. But this is when medical translation becomes much more than translating from one language to another. First you need to decipher the source language medical code. You need to be fluent in "doctor speak"!

And this is where research, experience and good glossaries all come into play. I often find fantastic help from colleagues on forums over at ProZ, but I also have another resource I'd like to share with those of you out there who translate from Spanish.

The Trem├ędica website hosts a fantastic glossary of the abbreviations, acronyms and symbols commonly used in Spanish medical texts. It includes more than 18,500 entries and, according to the website, is the most complete Spanish glossary of its kind to date. I use it all the time and find it invaluable.

It really is an excellent resource. Go check it out!

Yours truly,
Lingo Woman

Five things to remember when tackling a large translation project

I've just completed a whopper of a project. It was the biggest project I've worked on to date and took two months to complete. It was very interesting and involved the translation of financial statements, audit reports and tax returns from Italian into English. I really enjoyed the work. It was also a huge learning curve and there are a number of things I would bear in mind for similar projects in the future.

For those of you out there about to embark on a project with a similar time-scale, here are my five tips for handling a large translation project and ensuring it runs as smoothly as possible:


Remember...

...to set short-term deadlines 


The final deadline may seem very far away, but make sure you set short-term goals so you know you are working steadily towards completion and are on track for final delivery. It can be so easy to slowly fall behind on a long-term deadline with realising it. What's more, with smaller chunks to tackle, the project as a whole will seem less daunting. For this particular project, I factored in five smaller deadlines and it worked out really well. I was able to keep well on track over the course of the project and deliver everything on time.


....to agree on word counts before starting and insist on a purchase order upfront

Since this was for a trusted, regular client, I didn’t request the purchase order upfront as I usually would. At the start of the project we discussed source word counts and I agreed to go ahead with the project on the basis of these. When I received the purchase order from the client at the end of the project, however, I found I had been paid based on target word count. It is not my usual policy to agree to being paid on target word count since translations from Italian into English will generally contract by around 15%. With a large project, such a difference in word count could have a significant effect on the final cost. I raised this point with the client and we were able to come to a compromise. No hard feelings. Had I fixed all of this in advance, however, and insisted on the PO before starting, such a situation could have been avoided.


...to make payment arrangements in advance

If your project is going to take longer than a month to complete, make sure you make the necessary payment arrangements before getting started. Ask your client whether they would be happy to split the project cost so that you can send an invoice at the end of each month spent working on it. In this case, I didn’t discuss the possibility of splitting the payment over the two months, but it’s certainly something I would do in the future. Luckily it didn’t have too much of an effect on my cash flow since it was only spread over two months and I always ensure I have emergency funds available just in case.


...that you cannot work flat out on the same project for a long period of time

It’s just not feasible. Instead, I would advise factoring in extra time to allow you to accept smaller jobs here and there (nothing that would take more than an hour or two to complete). This is for two reasons. Firstly, it’s important not to forget about your other clients. The last thing you want to do is lose them because you are constantly turning down work for months on end. Let them know that you are busy until a certain date but that you are looking forward to taking on larger projects for them as soon as you are finished and that in the meantime you can help with small projects only. Communication is key! Secondly, taking on other smaller projects in between will allow you to take a break and refresh your mind a little before getting back to the big project. Be realistic though. Never take on too much.


...to agree on any surcharges before starting

For the benefit of everyone involved in the project, it is important to address any possible issues in advance of firmly accepting the project. That way both you and the client know exactly where you stand with regard to costs and budgets etc. One of the issues I faced for this project was that it involved scanned PDF source documents. I add a 10% surcharge when working with scanned PDF source files to cover the costs involved in formatting the document to make it match the source file as closely as possible. This is particularly relevant when the files contains lots of tables, as in the case of this particular project. Some of the files were very clear, however, and I was able to use a fantastic OCR tool to convert them. Obviously I had to spend a lot of time fixing up the file after, correcting margins, deleting column and section breaks etc., but it was totally worth it as it meant I could run the files through my CAT tool of choice. The bonus of this of being, of course, that I could ensure consistency of terminology throughout the file.


So there you have it. Good luck with your large translation projects. As for me, I wish I could say it was time to take a quick break, but I already have a mountain of other work to get through. 

No rest for Lingo Woman!