Medical Terms Translated Incorrectly and the Call for Standardization


In Cambodia, translating medical trauma is becoming increasingly difficult. For translating medical terms and abstract concepts to English, “the problem [is] that there were no agreed and consistent translations.” This is an intriguing dilemma because there is a psychological side to the problem. The words for depression and anxiety are often vague Cambodian phrases such as the phrase “thelea-tdeuk-ceut (the water in my heart has fallen)” to describe depression, according to an article devoted specifically to this issue.

This is where 1st Minute App steps in. Our app allows a person who does not speak the first responder’s language to select their symptoms in their language very quickly without waiting for a translator. The patient begins by selecting an area of the body and elaborating on what is wrong through their native language.

The app is ideal for Cambodian to English language barriers in the future, whether the incident takes place in that country or in the United States. “In an attempt to standardize Khmer psychosocial terminology, the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s psychology and social work departments are teaming up to create the first comprehensive English-Khmer psychosocial dictionary.” This dictionary, once completed, can be used in the 1st Minute App to aid Cambodians who do not speak English.

This is just one example of the need today for an app like 1st Minute App. Language barriers can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation.

Finding the Right Words to Translate Trauma. 4 Jul. 2015.

Blog by Laura Reed

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