Translating Medtech: don’t be afraid of the standards – part 1/3

If you think about what translating in the field of medtech involves, the first thing you probably think about is standards. Obviously, the development and production of medical devices is all a tightly regulated and closely controlled process, which makes standards of critical importance – and the same goes for producing the documentation for medical devices and translating them into other languages. Unfortunately, as soon as you say “standards” to most translators, they run the other way, because to them working with standards means short-circuiting the very thing that translators tend to be most proud of: their creativity. And frankly, there’s even some truth to the idea that creativity and standards can be mutually exclusive. But that also means that for the translator who can set this idea aside and see the advantages of the rigidity in the system, there’s a whole market to be won.

Guiding hand in your research

A good translator knows that research is at the heart of every good translation. And we all know what it’s like to spend hours looking for exactly the right term for a specific part, or component, or technical element. When you’re working on a text in medtech, sometimes a look at the relevant standard will be all you need, because the standard itself is a veritable gold mine – and not just for terminology, but also for fixed expressions and sentences. All of which make our job a lot easier.  These days, thanks to their multilingual content, finding standards on the web is a fairly simple matter. One of my go-tos is the website of the Beuth Publishing House;  they are the publishers of the standards in Germany, and their site offers lots of information (and even training). Translators will also find the website of  TÜV SÜD AG an incredibly valuable resource. Another advantage of working with standards is that you can be sure that experts in the field were involved in writing them — the same experts who will later be working with the products. So when you follow the standards, you can be sure that your translation will be correct and understood by the target audience.

Translation from German by Kyle Wohlmut

Photo by Faris Mohammed on Unsplash