Insights into my “workshop”

But as things are, my business is letters, words, sentences. Nothing beautiful to admire. My workshop cannot be visited since it’s my brain that’s doing most of the job. Of course, I could show you some pictures of the greyish convolutions of a human brain, but I fear that this would rather deter than attract you. Or I could bore you with lengthy explanations of the interactions between cerebrum, cerebellum etc. But what for? And I don’t really want to discuss the question either as to what extent my creativity is based on a particularly favourable constellation of chemical processes in my brain. My creations are much less handsome or spectacular than an elegant designer sofa or a beautiful painting. Who wants to frame a translation and hang it on the wall? But my creations surely have internal values – they are unique and made only for you according to your purposes and desires.

In view of the medical and – even more – the pharmaceutical fields, words say much more than views. Who would buy a medicine just because the pill looks so nice or the tablet has a nice colour? Nobody. It’s the content that counts! And only written information accompanying the product conveys its content in full.

To the untrained eye, an X-ray picture is no more than a mixture of all shades of black, white and grey. Only the radiologist’s report explains the findings. When a patient is discharged from hospital, the family doctor wants a written summary of his patient’s treatment. The MRI image alone is not sufficient to explain type and duration of the patient’s therapy let alone the outcome of the treatment or recommendations for the follow-ups.

Although study results in clinical research may be illustrated in graphics, the accompanying text is needed to help the reader understand the extent of the findings. Pictograms look nice and are very helpful indeed. But can you be sure that the patient understands that he must take the tablet with water and not with a glass of milk or grapefruit juice – the two latter both interfering with the way the drug works?

Written information is important and indispensable; as indispensable as the ability to adapt its tone to its target audience.

This is where I come in. Thanks to my language skills and medical knowledge I’m able to translate the description of a surgical technique using the appropriate technical terms and style in a way the surgeon feels at home when reading it.

However, the patient information for the same surgery will be adapted to the patient’s, i.e. layman’s, needs and be understandable by anyone without needing to look terms up in a medical dictionary.

These different aims and target audiences are the salt of my work and challenge me again and again. This is what thrills me in my work and I wouldn’t do without it anymore. It’s my goal to make the people of the world understand each other and my work is my modest contribution to achieve this goal.