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Med Clin (Barc). 1996 Mar 2;106(8):298-303.

[Translation of titles into English in Medicina Clínica: quality and influence of the Spanish language].

[Article in Spanish]

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  • 1Servicio de Traducción Médica, F. Hoffmann-La Roche SA, Suiza.



Journals that are not published solely in English have the titles of papers translated into English, the international language of medicine. The aim of this paper is to analyse the accuracy and quality of such translations in Medicina Clínica and to assess the influence of the morphology and syntax of Spanish on the English versions of the titles.


Two professional medical translators, one Spanish and the other English, each with a knowledge of both languages, compared the original Spanish and the English translations of the titles of the 292 papers and communications published in the 20 issues of volume 100 of Medicina Clínica. The discrepancies or "errors" were classified in five groups of increasing seriousness.


Of the titles studied, 77% contained some sort of error (458 errors were detected). In 100 titles (34%) there were differences in meaning between the original Spanish and the English translations. Another 72 titles contained serious orthographical, lexical or grammatical mistakes, though the basic meaning was not distorted. Approximately a third of the lexical and grammatical errors were attributable to the direct influence of Spanish.


The English translations of titles in Medicina Clínica contain numerous orthographical, lexical and gammatical mistakes. Serious errors of meaning in a number of translated titles could result in misinterpretation by readers who do not know Spanish. We recommend that the authors should play a part in the translation of the titles, as this should provide a simple and effective mean of improving the accuracy of the translations. Our comparison yielded much worse results than had been expected, which suggests that similar studies with other medical journals in Spanish and other languages would be justified.

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