Crimson Audit & Review

Content Audit, Review & Consulting for Medical Device Makers

Something Fishy About Device Marketing Translation

Posted by crimsonlanguage on 2013/01/29

Today’s New York Times has a short, well-written piece about the challenges of literary translation which, in many ways, mirrors the challenges of translating marketing material for medical device manufacturers:

The author despairs of adequately translating metaphor or humor when he sees his use of the classic Groucho Marx joke “you’re only as old as the woman you feel” rendered into French as “A man is only as old as the woman he can feel inside of him trying to express herself.” Regarding the ability of translation to render fluent literary text, he closes his essay with, “you can’t get it right, so the only thing you can do is make it better.” If only it were that easy!

Translating marketing material is very close to literary translation – only when it comes to medical device content, it’s even harder. Medical device marketing material must not only be technically accurate, but it must also capture the panache of the English original. So, faced with a difficult-to-impossible task, many translators may simply follow the English – which often yields a stiff, non-fluent result in the target language. And, even in those moments when the translator makes an honest attempt to capture the spirit of the original, an in-country reviewer may have an altogether different turn of phrase in mind.

Of course, the way to manage this situation is to use translators who are able to re-create the essense of the English original in the target language (“transcreation” is a word – awkward and contrived, in my opinion – that’s sometimes used in the industry) AND to get input from trusted, native-speaking, in-country resources.  To reduce risk and cost, the best way to get this input by using technology. Crimson’s sister division,, offers a cutting edge “Translation & Review Portal” that enables reviewers to track assignments, make updates and even see a formatted preview of the file – all in a simple, online format.

To paraphrase the Times article, marketing translation for medical device makers may be difficult to do right, but with good resources, process and advanced technology, you can definitely make it better!

One Response to “Something Fishy About Device Marketing Translation”

  1. […] Our Crimson division has been very active in dealing with the challenges of translating device marketing content – you can read an informative post here: […]

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