COVID-19 – Research for translation in times of a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic came suddenly and we all had to quickly learn what it was, how it spread and what to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from it. For many translators and interpreters COVID-19 was for a while synonym of work and faster turnaround jobs. It was essential to inform people all over the World about the new disease, its symptoms and the precautions to prevent it from spreading. To do this the World needed fast translation and interpreting services into a multitude of languages and dialects.
Translating a new subject is never easy but one can usually rely on many sources of information available online. However, when the new subject is actually also a new disease unknown to medical professionals themselves, linguists are faced with a new reality: what medical sources to consider reliable when there is not yet approved terminology? For many people this may be a small issue, but for professional linguists it is not. We need to know how to refer to the disease and the virus, what to call them in our own target language and make informed decisions when the resources in our target language are contradictory. Our work will be read by many different audiences and it is essential that the material we provide is technically and grammatically correct. “For COVID-19 in particular, in the early stages of the pandemic I found the guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) very helpful. For example, the WHO determined that COVID-19 referred to Coronavirus Disease 2019 therefore, COVID-19 would be an acronym and in Portuguese it should always be presented in capitals. It would also be feminine as per gender of word disease (doença) in Portuguese. The virus that causes the disease is however called SARS-CoV-2 and it would be a masculine word in Portuguese as per the gender of the word virus (vírus). Simple… it sounds so, but one only needs to consult some local Portuguese newspapers from early 2020 to realise how the plot thickened…”, Mónica Machado.
Mónica Machado is an English into European Portuguese translator, specialised in Oil and Gas, Mining and Geology, Environment, Hydroelectric Power, Renewables, HSE, Shipping and Business Legal Areas, working for Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries, such as Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe.
Comments are closed