#196 – July/August

Life Science is hot news, but we won’t stop there.

This issue of MultiLingual also offers a new Managing Editor, more design updates, and a timeline of Life Sciences localization as covered in MultiLingual, dating back to our first “Medical” focus in 2005. Scroll down to read (lots) about COVID-19, Plunet BusinessManager, EU MDR Implementation, conference interpreting, translation economics, and our engaging columns.

Read on!



hen I was first asked to join the team at MultiLingual I was not only flattered, I was excited. After all, why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to join a publication the very name of which is something to which I’ve dedicated my professional, academic, and, most importantly, personal life? 

I’ve worked, in one capacity or another, in the language field my entire career. Immediately after graduating I became a French and Japanese medical and legal translator and interpreter. After 6 years, I decided to move into higher education and became a professor of French and Japanese. Later became the director of international outreach and recruitment. 

My career path has been informed throughout by my patrimony growing up as an African American child in a particularly politically conscious family. In 2007 I began conducting regular workshops and consulting on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity, especially as they relate to linguistic inclusivity and language access.

Covid brought many changes to many of our lives, some of them far more devastating than others. For my part, I recognize the privilege of having been able to get through the pandemic if not unscathed then at least intact. 2020 did, however, bring about a career pivot that has led me happily to the pages of the magazine you hold in your hands.

I have big shoes to fill, and quite the legacy to uphold, while also helping chart a new course for this venerable publication. When we maintain our focus on the human element, our industry can be an enormous force for good. It also has persistent and troubling blindspots relating to ethnic and linguistic inclusion. That focus must be maintained and those blindspots must be addressed to flourish in a future where all voices, in all languages, are heard. I’m honored to be part of a team helping to make that future a reality.

I’m also honored to present this issue, my first as managing editor, covering the life sciences. Access to reliable medical care is a fundamental human right, and language is an indispensable part of that access. I can think of no more important topic to present to you on my maiden voyage at MultiLingual, and I hope you read it in good health. 

Katie Botkin signature


A MultiLingual timeline of life sciences localization in the 21st century

Look back on 16 years of MultiLingual and examine the topics of the time, and the relevance they still have today

  • 2007 – December

    2007 – December →

    The role of information technology in pandemics.

    Written in the wake of the far-less-devastating SARS pandemic, this article asked us to imagine, and prepare for, a much more widespread and impactful biological event, and asked if our technology and supply chains were ready to handle such an event (spoiler alert: they weren’t).

  • 2009 – July/August

    2009 – July/August →

    Pharmaceutical marketing for Latinos in the United States.

    As belated recognition of Spanish as an at least co-equal language to English in the US began to gain momentum in the early 21st century, more attention was given to the need for linguistically and culturally appropriate translations of medical information.

  • 2011 – July/August

    2011 – July/August →

    Culture and language issues in global clinical trials.

    English may be the (problematically) accepted language of the scientific community, but for the 80 percent of the world that speaks no English, accurate and culturally responsive translations are crucial, especially for patients taking part in potentially risky clinical trials.

  • 2012 – September

    2012 – September →

    Language requirements for EU medical device labels.

    Though English and — to lesser degrees — French and German reign supreme in the governing bodies of the EU, vital information is legally required to be available to EU citizens in all 24 official EU languages, presenting complex logistical challenges to EU regulatory bodies and medical device manufacturers.

  • 2013 – September

    2013 – September →

    Interpreting culture in health care.

    As a former medical interpreter myself I’m well aware that i Interpreters in a medical setting do their clients, and medical providers, a disservice when they seek to act merely as machines translating one language into another. Medical interpreters aren’t just language interpreters, we have a critical function as cultural interpreters as well.

  • 2014 – September

    2014 – September →

    Translating medical devices of the future.

    As medical devices, and the technology behind them, advance, so too does the need for those devices to be linguistically adapted to the environment in which they’ll be used. Medical device translation is no longer just about labels and instruction manuals, it’s software and user interfaces, readouts and displays.

  • 2015 – September

    2015 – September →

    Speaking for community interpreters.

    As the crucial role of interpreters in providing access to health care and social services continues to be recognized, there’s a concomitant recognition of the need to standardize the training and certification these indispensable bridges between two cultures and languages receive.

  • 2016 – September

    2016 – September →

    Automatic interpretation for health care.

    Demand for qualified linguists in the healthcare field can easily outstrip supply, especially when considering the combinatorial explosion represented by the potential permutations of source and target language. Machine translation is a tempting solution to this problem until one considers the imperfections of the system and how devastating the consequences of those imperfections can be; how can we overcome these issues?

  • 2017 – July/August

    2017 – July/August →

    MT application of localization to life sciences

    The rise of the machine (translation) continues apace as we progress through the latter half of the second decade of the 2000s. With machine translation improving, if haltingly, and being adapted as a cost-saving measure by so many organizations, what is the rightful place of this technology in assuring access to medical care?

  • 2018 – February/March

    2018 – February/March →

    What the 2017 EU regulations mean for medical device localization.

    A multilingual, quasi-federal regulatory body like the EU clearly has to work hand in hand with linguists and manufacturers to ensure that developing medical technology is safe, reliable, and understandable to all speakers of the union’s 24 official languages.

  • 2018 – July

    2018 – July →

    Corpora and life sciences translation

    As unsuitable as corpus based translation can be in some instances, it can be an invaluable tool for certain languages and in certain domains with a highly specialized vocabulary, especially when curated and used wisely.

  • 2019 – July/August →

    The growing role of neural MT in the life sciences.

    Old-school machine translation is beset upon by many problems, many of which serve to replicate the biases of its developers. Neural MT, though far from perfect, at least recognizes some of these problems and tries to remedy them in an attempt to provide fast, reliable, and linguistically appropriate information to as many people as possible.

  • 2020 – July/August

    2020 – July/August →

    Lessons in plain language from COVID-19

    The words “global pandemic” by their very definition highlight the importance of providing easily understood information in a variety of languages. Jargon and specialized terms have an appropriate place in the lexicons of specialists, but an epidemiological event that touches all corners of the globe requires an accessible, culturally responsive approach. That’s one of the lessons that the tumultuous year of 2020 taught — and one that will hopefully stick with us.


With Leyda Becker

Where do you live?
My name is Leyda Becker and I am a proud Latina born in Venezuela. I migrated to the United States when I was 13 years of age.

How did you get started in this industry?
I have been working in the field of language access since I graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2001. During my first job out of college I was tasked with translating into Spanish vital information for a local non-profit organization and that’s how I got started in the industry.


Covid-19 and MDR- Game Changers in Medical Translation

By Michael Kemmann

Incidents like the current Covid-19 pandemic, which are considered once-in-a-lifetime events — at least at the time they are happening — are bound to raise debates about what impact they will still have on business, and life in general, once they lie behind us.

Breaking (Language) Barriers

By Andrew Warner

As vaccination efforts ramp up and COVID-19 cases decline across the United States, it’s worth noting that the pandemic has brought to light significant inequalities in the nation…

Impact of Covid-19 on Japanese Business Culture

By Tomomi Kawano and Timo Šefčovič

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people from different regions of the globe have had to change their ways of doing business on a daily basis…

Extended Deadline for EU MDR Implementation Quickly Approaching

By Wendy Farrell

When the pandemic hit the world in March 2020, several medical device manufacturers went into rapid production and distribution of diagnostinfluc tests, personal protective…


Translation Economics of the 2020s

by Jaap van der Meer

The long-expected technical revolution is here. Automatic translation is no longer just a freebie on the internet. It is now entering the “real” economy of the translation sector, and it changes everything. The fundamental economic laws of intellectual property or of scarcity, for instance, do not apply in a world in which machines autonomously generate an abundance of translated material.


Bolingo’s African Country Guides

Curated by Marjolein Groot Nibbelink

Whether you are conducting business, are involved in politics, or just visiting a country, it will always work to your advantage to adjust — to the level of your comfort — to the local communication style, be it verbally or African Country Guides will be released one at a time, and we are looking at the first three guides, covering Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

There is a significant amount of overlap between the guides, particularly in the introductions, indicating that these are truly meant to serve as individual guides to the countries they cover.


Transitions in Times of Covid

By Barry S. Olsen

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw.
The COVID-19 pandemic set off a series of transitions that the language services industry is still grappling with. Many of these transitions were forced upon us (think working from home, online learning, and videoconferencing, to name just a few).

Jorge Ungo, Sales

By Terena Bell

Who makes interpreting happen? Ask around — both inside and outside the industry — and the first response you’ll likely get is interpreters, of course.
But that’s not where the answer stops. From scheduling managers to quality assurance, an entire team backs each and every one of those interpreters, handling the language and logistical needs that get them on the line.

The Ever-Changing Regulatory Environment in Finance

By Christophe Djaouani

In the last two editions of Rules of the Trade, I commented on the role of language service providers (LSPs) in supporting the goals and objectives of the clinical trials industry and the healthcare sector. This time, I will focus on something almost as personal to individuals as their health and wellbeing: their finances.


Memsource Translate Innovative MT management in your TMS

Sponsored Content

Machine translation (MT) quality has dramatically improved over the past few years. Many enterprises and language service providers have turned to MT for faster and more cost-effective translation. MT represents the single most important productivity enhancement for human translators to date. It’s no wonder that since 2020, a majority of projects in Memsource now use machine translation.


Conference Interpreting Businesses under Lockdowns

By Natalia Fedorenkova

Covid-19 had a powerful effect on the conference interpretation business. I interviewed three CEOs of conference interpreting businesses to highlight how they adapted to the new game of multilingual online events.


Plunet BusinessManager

By Dan Milczarski

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The language industry is too commoditized. Price points are shrinking. Quality and timeliness expectations are getting more stringent. Customers require a language service provider (LSP) with technology-enabled solutions.

Sounds familiar, right?