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.


Dental glossaries (including Finnish) seem to be scarce

Some time ago I translated some marketing material for dental instruments from English into Finnish. It was difficult to find the terms!  I managed to find only a couple glossaries on the Internet:  Hammasalan sanakirja (by Tapio Suonperä) and the one-page Finnish-Finnish-Latin vocabulary (by Tapio Jokela and Jonne Repo). Both are listed on the website of the Association of Finnish Dental Technicians – the link page includes some English terminology sources as well. Also the Duodecim online dictionaries have some dental vocabulary.

However, many of the terms I needed were not included in the sources mentioned above. So had to search for them in different bilingual user instructions. Although dental technology is not within the scope of my blog title, I’ll list some of the terms I found here, just in case someone else needs them in the future. Comments are also welcome!

backfill = täyttäminen,downpack = tiivistäminen, extruder = pursotin, lip hook = huulikoukku, paper point = paperinasta, plugger = täppäin, taper= kartio (or something starting with “kartio”), sealer = sealeri/tiivistysaine, smear layer = preparointijätekerros, verifier = kokomitta.

Disclaimer: I have not done any profound terminology search, only a search for the needs of one particular translation assignment, and the terms above may have different Finnish counterparts depending on the context and the client (dental instrument manufacturer). One term may have several translation alternatives. Probably many dental professionals use jargon that is derived from English. However, the dental technology terminology would offer a good theme for reseach for a translation student interested in medical (dental) terminology.

“Tradenamex kovat kapselit” or “kovat Tradenamex-kapselit”?

“Tradenamex kovat kapselit” (Tradenamex hard capsules) – is this good Finnish?  In my opinion it isn’t – nor is this name type:

“Tradenamex Medium 500 mg poretabletti”  (Tradenamex Medium 200 mg effervescent tablet). (“Tradenamex” and “Tradenamex Medium” present trade names here).

I think the correct forms would be as follows:

“Kovat Tradenamex-kapselit”  and

“500 mg:n Tradenamex Medium -poretabletti” / “Tradenamex Medium 500 mg -poretabletit”.

I would like to hear what Finnish language specialists think about this name problem.

Another thing that regularly annoys me is the following. Here are some Standard Terms:

Capsule, hard = Kapseli, kova
Capsule, soft = Kapseli, pehmeä
Chewable capsule, soft = Purukapseli, pehmeä
However, when you use this kind of a Standard Term in an entire phrase, I m puzzled what to do with the adjective, that cannot be left in the basic form in Finnish:
 Blisters contain 14, 21 or 56 capsules, hard.
-> Läpipainopakkaukset sisältävät 14, 21 tai 56 kapselia, kovaa (or kovia?).
My question is which form I should use here?  The simplest solution would be to write “… 56 kovaa kapselia”, but that is not an option here, as the Standard Term has to be kept as it is…?  Any advice is welcome.