More interesting linguistic notes


A friend of mine, Philip Bazire, a surgeon trained both in the UK and in Spain, and an expert in Medical  Translation saw the last post and made a few comments of his own.

It is a fact that very often Spanish doctors confuse  words/ terms between English and Spanish, and Philip mentions a few of these confusions.

The Spanish word “evolución” when talking about a disease or illness is normally translated as ” clinical course”. It is NOT evolution. This is a false friend. “Antecendentes” could be “past history”, “past medical history” of ” background”, and when a patient refers to pain and, in Spanish, says “irradia” this should not be translated as “irradiates” but “radiates” or even “spreads”; for example – ” dolor torácico que irradia hacia el brazo izquierdo” would probably be translated as ” chest pain that radiates to the left arm”.

We are working on the next interview, which will uploaded before the end of this month. Have a great week.

A new section dedicated to interesting expressions


This morning in a clinical session in English in the Infectious Diseases section of Internal Medicine in Son Espases Hospital I heard a very nice expression, which apparently is commonly used. It was –

INTENTION TO TEST IS INTENTION TO TREAT”

and so from now onwards I wish to introduce a new section to the blog – “Interesting Expressions related to Medical English”.

Please if you have any expressions that you think would be interesting to publish send me a mail. Thank you.

False friends in Medical English by Jonathan McFarland


False friends (faux amis) are pairs of words that look or sound the same in two languages, but have different meanings. One kind of false friends can occur when two speakers speak different varieties of the same language. Speakers of British English and American English sometimes have this problem. George Bernard Shaw commented: “England and United States are two countries divided by a common language”. But today we are going to talk about false friends between different languages, like ENGLISH and SPANISH.

If you have caught a cold and go to a Chemist and ask for something for your constipation you will be given a laxative.

 CONSTIPATED = ESTREÑIDO: “I am constipated”
CONSTIPADO = COLD: “I have catch a cold”

“The actual President of Spain is Rajoy”.” Sorry, I think you mean present”.

ACTUAL = REAL. “This is the actual case”.                                           ACTUAL = PRESENT: “The present President of Spain is Rajoy”.

The Doctor assisted the Congress on AIDS. The nurse attended the patient.

ASSIST = ATENDER: “The nurse assisted the patient”. ASISTIR = ATTEND: “The Doctor attended the Congress on AIDS”.

“Can you pass me the carpet please?” “It is under your feet. Don’t you mean the folder?”

CARPET = ALFOMBRA: “The carpet is under your feet”. CARPETA = FOLDER: “Can you pass me the folder please?”

“You look very embarrassed.” “No, I am 8 months pregnant.”

EMBARRASSED = AVERGONZADA: “I am very embarrassed”.

EMBARAZADA = PREGNANT: “I am 8 months pregnant”.

“Was the operation an exit?”. “The operation went very well; it was a great success.”

EXIT = SALIDA: “The exit is over there”.
ÉXITO = SUCCESS: “Was the operation a success?”

“You look very sane.” “I hope so! I hope I don’t need to visit the psychiatry department. I feel healthy.”

SANE = CUERDO, EN SU SANO JUICIO: “He is sane, he doesn’t need to go to the psychiatrist.
SANO = HEALTHY: “ I feel very healthy”