The ABCs of Medical Translation: Strategies to Identify, Translate and Manage Acronyms and Abbreviations


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62 minutes

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able:
  • To identify, expand and break down medical acronyms and abbreviations.
  • To identify appropriate resources to translate medical acronyms and abbreviations.
  • To adopt specific "don't panic" translation strategies to methodologically handle these tricky terms.


Are you stumped by the acronyms and abbreviations that saturate medical translations? Do these prevent you from accepting translation jobs? Do you want to learn how to decode these terms and identify the best resources for your language combinations?
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Abbreviations, acronyms and the quasi-legible scribbles of doctors are the medical translator's daily bread; however, deciphering and researching these words, as well as maintaining terminology databases, can lead to productivity black holes. This presentation will provide a variety of resources and strategies for managing the translation of these troublesome three- and four-letter words more effectively. It will also address related issues, such as handling texts with interwoven English and non-English acronyms and abbreviations and the appropriate use of Latin- and Greek-derived medical jargon.

Upload Date

September 22, 2015

Trainer Bio

Erin Lyons - Erin M. Lyons is a full-time French to English and Italian to English translator, medical writer, and consultant and the Owner and President of BiomedNouvelle. Her primary areas of focus include clinical research, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and cosmetic products and she has split her professional career between Europe and the U.S. She has a BA in Romance Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago and an MA in Italian and French Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She has presented at several ATA Annual Conferences, as well as at the 2011 World Congress of the International Federation of Translators and the 2013 International Conference (Porto) and 6th Annual Congress and Training in France (Biarritz).

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Martina Keskintepe
11 months ago

Thank you Erin for this very informative video. For me the differences between US and UK English were especially helpful, as was information on the advanced googling functions and the resources at the end of your presentation. I would love to get a pdf version of your presentation, if that is still an option.

over 2 years ago

These hints are the solution to the many "nightmares" I have gone through deciphering certain acronyms. One I cannot forget was GBS - which misled me to think the subject was "Group B Streptococcal disease", only to find out in the end that it meant "Guillain-Barré Syndrome". Imagine the proofreading re-work. I had an entirely *twisted* impression ! Congratulations to Ms. Erin. Thank you very much. I had no idea about these advanced Google search tricks until today.

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