Is the reliability of Google Translate now adequate for the translation of medical journals? (2)

2 November, 2022

Machine translation or computer assisted translation has been around for many years, even before Google was invented. Thanks to Google for the great work that has gone into this. I have been reading selected articles in the this magazine for a long time but never thought that Google Translation, which is totally commercially motivated, is the solution. One of the articles I read sometime ago “Digital Health and Health Systems of the Future” has the following abstract in English “Digital strategies have been formally recognized as a critical health systems strengthening strategy to help meet the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage targets. This landscaping collection reviews multiple possible approaches across health system pillars, from digital referrals to decision support systems, identifying key knowledge gaps across these domains and recognizing the growth needed in the field to realize its full potential.”. The Arabic translation of this abstract is “تم الاعتراف رسميًا بالاستراتيجيات الرقمية باعتبارها استراتيجية مهمة لتعزيز النظم الصحية للمساعدة في تحقيق أهداف التنمية المستدامة وأهداف التغطية الصحية الشاملة. تستعرض مجموعة المناظر الطبيعية هذه العديد من الأساليب الممكنة عبر ركائز النظام الصحي ، من الإحالات الرقمية إلى أنظمة دعم القرار ، وتحديد الفجوات المعرفية الرئيسية عبر هذه المجالات والتعرف على النمو المطلوب في هذا المجال لتحقيق إمكاناته الكاملة.

The question that was posed “Is the reliability of Google Translate now adequate for the translation of medical journals?”. The answer as far as I am concerned “no” with a lot of caution or and “yes” with lots of caution. Medical journal are full of concepts, names of body parts, drugs and medicines, geographic areas and so on. I do not think Google Translate can do the translation without mistakes and without learning. Words that are highlighted in ُEnglish and their Arabic translation above are not right especially when translating ““goals” vs. targets” and “landscaping”. The majority is acceptable.

Najeeb Al-Shorbaji

HIFA profile: Najeeb Al-Shorbaji recently retired from the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked since 1988 in different capacities. He was most recently Director of the Knowledge, Ethics and Research Department at WHO headquarters, Geneva. Previously he was Coordinator for Knowledge Management and Sharing in EMRO (Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office), Egypt. He is a member of a number of national and international professional societies and associations specialised in information management and health informatics. He has authored over 100 research papers and articles presented in various conferences and published in professional journals. He is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA Working Group on Multilingualism.

Email: shorbajin AT