“To take” is not always “ottaa” in Finnish

Sometimes it is better to translate “take” (a tablet / a medicine etc.) by the word that actually means “use” in Finnish.  In EMA templates these two verbs go often as a pair:

(PIL, section 3:)

How to <take> <use> X  / Miten X:ää <otetaan> <käytetään>

Always <take> <use> this medicine exactly as … / <Ota> <Käytä> tätä lääkettä juuri siten kuin…

If you<take> <use>  more X than you should / Jos <otat> <käytät> enemmän X:ää kuin sinun pitäisi

If you forget to <take> <use>  X / Jos unohdat <ottaa> <käyttää> X:ää

If  you stop <taking> <using> X / Jos lopetat X:n <oton> <käytön>

However, translating “use” -> “käyttää”, “take” ->  “ottaa” automatically is not wise.

Here is a example:

ORIGINAL TEXT: The XYZ tablets are sometimes taken with another medicine, called ABC.

If you translate it literally into Finnish, the result is ” XYZ-tabletteja otetaan toisinaan toisen lääkkeen, ABC:n, kanssa.”

However, in Finnish,  “otetaan” in this context implies questions: when and why it is taken, who takes it? The verb “ottaa” in this phrase gives the impression that someone can just pluck these tablets every now and then, when they wish and if they wish.

When you change the verb, the meaning becomes much clearer:

XYZ-tabletteja käytetään toisinaan toisen lääkkeen, ABC:n, kanssa.

Now the phrase implies that the use of ZYZ is prescribed and supervised by the doctor, taking of it is more or less regular, and the course lasts at least for some days.

Another example:  the phrase “You should not breast-feed while you are taking this medicine” translated as “Älä imetä ottaessasi tätä lääkettä” may imply the thought that one should not breast-feed at the moment when one is just swallowing the tablet (but two minutes or half an hour after having taken the tablet, one could continue with breast-feeding?). It is better to say “Älä imetä käyttäessäsi tätä lääkettä.” The word “käyttäessäsi” implies the entire treatment course –  several weeks or months perhaps.

In the templates, this mistake of too direct a translation has been avoided at least in the PL section 2:  “If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, think you may be pregnant or are planning to have a baby, ask your <doctor> or <pharmacist> for advice before taking this medicine.” The Finnish template has “Jos olet raskaana tai imetät, epäilet olevasi raskaana tai jos suunnittelet lapsen hankkimista, kysy <lääkäriltä> tai <apteekista> neuvoa ennen tämän lääkkeen käyttöä.

 

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