Category Archives: problem words in translation

Small but problematic – signal words into Finnish

Until now, I did not know that  the signal words “Danger”, “Warning” and “Caution” (and “Notice”)  and their translations into several languages have been standardized and also their translations into Finnish!

Danger = Vaara

Warning = Varoitus

Caution = Huomio

Notice = Huomautus

Of course we translators have often translated these signal words in this very way, but it was nice to find out that the standard versions in a document.  EDIT (2019):  In this post, there was originally a link to the document where I found these terms, but unfortunately the document has disappeared / its address has been changed since.

“Tabulated list of adverse reactions” in Finnish

Several different Finnish translations are used for the phrase “Tabulated list of adverse reactions“, that is used as a heading in the SPC section 4.8. This heading is not part of any template but can be translated freely (so far), and I have come across at least the following wordings:

  • haittavaikutustaulukko
  • taulukoitu luettelo haittavaikutuksista
  • taulukoitu yhteenveto haittavaikutuksista
  • taulukkomuotoinen luettelo haittavaikutuksista
  • haittavaikutukset esitettynä yhteenvetona taulukkomuodossa
  • taulukko haittavaikutuksista
  • luettelo haittavaikutuksista

“To tabulate” means “taulukoida, esittää taulukossa” (source: English-Finnish dictionaries) or in English “to set out, arrange, or write in a tabular form” (source: The Collins English Dictionary).

Would you rather write  “Luettelo osallistujista”  or “Osallistujaluettelo” (both mean ‘list of participants’, “Taulukko arvosanoista”  or “Arvosanataulukko” (both mean ‘table of grades’)?

The English-Finnish Technical Dictionary “Enteka” gives the following example. “The results are tabulated below.” = “Tulokset on esitetty taulukossa alla.”

Which one of the above do you think is best – or do you still have another suggestion?


“Healthcare professional” in Finnish


The term “healthcare professional(s)” is common in EMA texts. It is used in templates, e.g in the decentralised template (v.4.0, 02/2016) as follows:

  • in the beginning of the SPC:  “Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions.” (Terveydenhuollon ammattilaisia pyydetään ilmoittamaan epäillyistä lääkkeen haittavaikutuksista.)
  • in the SPC section 4.8. “Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions….) (Terveydenhuollon ammattilaisia pyydetään ilmoittamaan kaikista epäillyistä haittavaikutuksista…)
  • in the end of PIL: “The following information is intended for healthcare professionals only:” (Seuraavat tiedot on tarkoitettu vain hoitoalan ammattilaisille:)

OK, here we have a problem. (Besides the fact that sentence “Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions” has been translated in two different ways into Finnish). The templates are using two different terms for “healthcare professional” in Finnish: terveydenhoidon ammattilainen and  hoitoalan ammattilainen.  – Which one to choose when my client (who does not speak Finnish)  asks me to translate “Your healthcare professional” using “the template term”.  If I could translate freely,  would say “sinua hoitava henkilökunta”, but now I have to choose from the two mentioned above. This task is further complicated by the fact that one cannot really translate “your” directly into Finnish here, or else one gets a strange phrase in Finnish, “Sinun terveydenhoidon ammattilaisesi”,  that would give an impression that you have someone working privately (only) for you…) . Instead of “sinun” (your) one should say “sinua hoitava” (the one/ those who are taking care of you”).

The translation of “your healthcare professional” would thus be”sinua hoitava terveydenhoidon ammattilainen” or “sinua hoitava hoitoalan ammattilainen”. Or do you have any better suggestions?

Not all nurses are “sairaanhoitaja” – a template problem!

A client asked me to correct my SPC translation about “the nurse / healthcare professional who is taking the x-ray” so that it includes the template term for nurse, “sairaanhoitaja”.

OK, I changed it but the problem is that not all nurses are “sairaanhoitaja” (“Level One Nurse”), some are e.g. ”lähihoitaja” (Level Two Nurse) or “terveydenhoitaja” (Public Health Nurse) or others,  and in this case (taking x-rays), I think the correct term is  “röntgenhoitaja” (a radiographer).

Not all Finnish nurses are allowed to use the title “sairaanhoitaja”.  Dear Fimea, wouldn’t it be better to change the template word “sairaanhoitaja” to mere “hoitaja” (a nurse, a carer)? That would save me time when working on these translations.

A strip – repäisypakkaus or läpipainolevy?

The standard term for “strip” is “repäisypakkaus”. This Finnish term actually covers many different kind of packages that you can open by tearing; the word “repäisy” means “tearing”. (E.g. a tear-off cap = repäisykansi.) Thus the Finnish term has a quite wide sphere of application; you can check this by doing a Google image search using the word “repäisypakkaus”. However, I understand “repäisypakkaus” would also logically be the smallest part of blister pack, a part that can be easily torn off and that usually contains only one tablet.
However, the templates (Annex III, Labelling) use the word “levy” for the strip: the heading MINIMUM PARTICULARS TO APPEAR ON BLISTERS OR STRIPS has been translated as
(Actually I suppose there is a hyphen missing in front of the word “levyissä”; I understand strip to be läpipainolevy (“a press-through sheet”)

Often in SPCs  the word “blister strip” has also been translated as “läpipainoliuska”.

So, which word to use for “strip”, the standard term “repäisypakkaus” or the PL term “läpipainolevy”?

“Tamper-proof” and “tamper-resistant” into Finnish

The verb “to tamper” is not easy to translate into Finnish. The verbs that correspond to “tamper” in Finnish seem to be more or less of a spoken-language style (corresponding to “to fiddle”):  peukaloida, näpelöidä, sormeilla, kajota, sabotoida…

So, how should one translate e.g. the following phrases:

“Do not use X, if you notice that the pack has been tampered with“.

“Do not use X, if the pack is damaged or shows signs of tampering.”

Below I have listed some wordings that have been used in SPCs or PLs to translate the problem phrase with “tampering”:

Älä käytä X-valmistetta, jos huomaat,  että / pakkaus näyttää avatulta tai vahingoittuneelta / pakkauksessa on avaamiseen viittaavia merkkejä / pakkaukseen on kajottu / pakkauksessa on merkkejä kajoamisesta /pakkauksessa on merkkejä siitä, että se on avattu aiemmin / pakkaus ei näytä koskemattomalta / pakkauksessa on merkkejä peukaloinnista.

According to the Enteka dictionary, “tamperproof cap” = peitekorkki, suojakorkki.  “Tamper-proof” can,  more generally,  be “murtovarma” or “varkaudelta suojattu”.  In one SPC, I recently noticed that “a tamper-proof closure” had been translated as “avaamattomuuden osoittava kansi”.

Suggestions for good translations for “to tamper” and “tamper-proof” (in connection to packages containing medicinal products) are welcome! 🙂


How to translate “elective” into everyday Finnish

How to translate “elective surgery” into Finnish when the target audience is common people? I would not use the word “elektiivinen” in a package leaflet, as I think most Finns do not know what it means.

Some terms related to “elective” have been clarified on the web site of the Pirkanmaa Hospital District:

“Potilaat tulevat sairaalaan päivystyksenä tai kutsupotilaina, ja he ovat kiireellisen tai kiireettömän hoidon tarpeessa.

Kiireellisten kutsupotilaiden tutkimusten ja hoidon suunnittelu aloitetaan muutamien päivien kuluessa. Suunnitellun hoidon aloitus tapahtuu usein viikon parin, pääsääntöisesti viimeistään neljän viikon kuluessa tutkimusten valmistumisesta.

Ei-kiireellisten kutsupotilaiden eli kiireetöntä hoitoa tarvitsevien hoidon aloittaminen tulee lain mukaan tapahtua kuudessa kuukaudessa. Poikkeus on lastenpsykiatria, jossa hoito tulee aloittaa kolmen kuukauden kuluessa.

Päivystys tarkoittaa hoidon arviointia ja aloittamista yleensä tuntien kuluessa, pääsääntöisesti viimeistään vuorokauden sisällä hoidon tarpeen toteamisesta.

Kutsupotilaita ovat potilaat, jotka perusterveydenhuollosta, työterveyshuollosta tai yksityiseltä lääkäriltä tulleen lähetteen perustella kutsutaan tiettynä ajankohtana tutkimuksiin tai hoitoon. Terveydenhuollon ammattilaiset käyttävät kutsupotilaasta myös nimitystä elektiivinen potilas eli valittavissa oleva, ei-päivystyksellinen potilas.”

Based on the above passage, the patients waiting for an elective surgery are “kutsupotilaita”.

However, one cannot use the word “kutsu-” in case of surgeries. How about “kiireetön (not urgent)”? Based on a web search, it seems to be a widely used translation solution for “elective” when “elektiivinen” cannot be used . One could also add the word “suunniteltu” (“planned”) or “ennalta suunniteltu”(preplanned) to “kiireetön”. It also seems that “ennalta suunniteltu” alone is often used as a synonym for “elective”.

More definitions from a TAYS Sydänkeskus Oy brochure that I found on the web:

“- Elektiivinen: ennalta suunniteltu, potilaalle lääketieteellisin perustein kiireettömästi
tehtävä toimenpide.
– Kiireellinen: suunnittelematon, potilaalle lääketieteellisin perustein samalla sairaalajaksolla
tehtävä toimenpide.
– Päivystys: suunnittelematon, potilaalle lääketieteellisin perustein välittömästi tehtävä toimenpide.”

The Duodecim online dictionaries offer terms like “valinnaisaikainen” and “ei-päivystyksellinen” but I would rather use “ennalta suunniteltu, kiireetön” for an “elective” surgery.