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On a business note:
After 6 plus years in business, I am prepared to announce that January is a traditionally slow month, and February trends in that direction, as well. Here is my guess as to why this is the case.
At the end of the year, I think that pharmaceutical companies and related industry players do not produce as much documentation, since their employees take off work for the holidays. Then, January comes around, people slink back to work, their inboxes start filling up, and it is a month or so before the companies are churning out documentation at a regular pace. Finally, after a few more weeks, those documents reach the “translation stage.” Being at the end of this cycle, it's not until February that I start seeing work return to normal.
Note: To reiterate, this is only a theory, based on observation and experience as a translator. I wanted to share and perhaps hear from others what they think makes January a slow month for medical science translation.
I want to diversify:
First off, notice that my business name is Cochran Language Services, NOT Translation Services. I wanted broader coverage so that I can branch out beyond translation. Just today, on this icy Oklahoma morning, I applied to transcribe for Rev.com. That line of work requires similar skills to translation, specifically excellent English and grammar, and good listening and typing skills. I have also started proofing my friend’s audio for her voiceover business, which is another language service. Thus, as 2021 moves forward, I vow to keep my eyes open for jobs where my language skills are valued. Diversity should ensure that I have more consistent work throughout the year. (No more slow Januarys for me!)
Finally, a dilemma with scientific terminology:
I translated an article last week that discussed hemolytic disease of the newborn, a new-to-me concept. When accepting the job, I knew that it would be a challenge for me. So, I made sure to thoroughly research the disorder. However, the dilemma was in the French author's choice of terminology. The source referred to both incompatibilité fœto-maternelle and maladie hémolytique du nouveau-né. However, in English, the translation of the second term (hemolytic disease of the newborn, HDN) is more commonly used than that of the first term (maternal-fetal incompatibility). I had to decide between using HDN in every case and risk mistranslating the meaning of the text, OR using both terms in their respective instances with a clear justification for doing so.
I decided on the latter. My justification to the editor read, as follows:
“Throughout the source, the author alternates between hemolytic disease of the newborn and maternal-fetal incompatibility. This leads me to understand that, at times, he wanted to refer to the incompatibility aspect, and at other times, the hemolytic disease aspect, which are related but are two distinct concepts. I would say, as a non-scientist, that the hemolytic disease is an expression/manifestation of the blood type incompatibility. So, for consistency, I followed the author’s lead. If I had changed the incompatibility references to hemolytic disease references, in even one instance, I concluded that this would have created inconsistency, potentially muddying the meaning of the text.”
Whew, that’s a mouthful! I must have expressed myself clearly because I did not hear back from the client with additional questions.