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Vol. 10 - Num. 37

Special Articles

Medical prescriptions for our sick language (part 1)

Fernando Navarroa

aMédico especialista y traductor médico. Cabrerizos. Salamanca. España.

Correspondence: FA Navarro. E-mail:

Reference of this article: Navarro FA. Medical prescriptions for our sick language (part 1). Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2008;10:141-59.

Published in Internet: 31-03-2008 - Visits: 120953


This is the first of a series of three papers where the author explains and comments some of the most important mistakes of the Spanish medical language, and the way to avoid them in the specialized medical publications. The incorrect use of language in medicine is not just a question of linguistic purism, but it seriously damages our specialised language through the introduction of important imprecision and minimizing clarity. Starting with some real examples taken from medical journals in Spanish, the author checks some of the more serious mistakes of medical language; they attack the three essential features that should characterize every scientific language: truthfulness, precision and clarity.

The theoretical presentation is completed with a bibliographic selection on writing and medical language, as well as a wide English-Spanish glossary of terms with over two hundred words and English expressions of difficult or misleading translation in paediatrics. The specialist will find in this glossary terms such as abuse, acetaminophen, borderline, BRAT diet, cerebral palsy, child life, FLK, follow-up milk, immunization, infant, isolette, parent, pediatric age, percentile, recumbent length, respiratory distress syndrome, shaken baby syndrome, surfactant, toilet training, tweenager, unthriftiness or young children, among many others of not so easy translation as at first sight it could seem.


English-Spanish False friends Medical translation Medical writing

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