Tag Archives: translation of clinical trial questionnaires

Eastern Europe – Polish and Slavonic languages a speciality

Are you hoping to expand your business into new markets?

For anyone considering business expansion, Central and Eastern Europe constitute an exciting market.  Important developments are taking place in commerce, science and medicine, spurred on by strengthening ties within the European Economic Area. Many of the countries of Eastern Europe became members of the European Union in two waves, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, and lastly by Croatia in 2013, with some of the later countries finally achieving full migration rights in 2014.  Other countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) are at varying stages of the negotiation process, whilst Armenia, Georgia and Moldova have all expressed interest. As Europe gradually emerges from the effects of the recent recession, economic activity across the region is steadily picking up. All this means a growing customer base and new opportunities for trade.

Slavic languages map

Slavic languages map

How can we help?

Linguamax is proud to have a particularly strong pool of language specialists for Eastern European languages. Our Management Team includes native speakers of Polish, with many years of experience in successfully arranging and overseeing diverse and demanding language projects, and our highly qualified Eastern European translators include legal, medical, technical and financial experts, who of course translate into their mother tongue.

Some of our most recent projects include:

Translation into Russian and Czech of product specifications

Translation of medical reports from Polish to English

Translation of clinical trial questionnaires into Hungarian, Bulgarian and Czech, with proofreading

Translation of insurance documents from Russian to English

Translation into Bosnian of legal communications

Translation of financial documents from Serbian to English


Which languages are spoken in the area?

Slavic or Slavonic languages

Predominant amongst the languages of Eastern Europe are those belong to the Slavic or Slavonic group. They show strong similarities, but each language has its own marked characteristics.

The Slavic or Slavonic languages can be divided up into broad families:

South Slavic: including Serbo-Croatian, Slovene and Bulgarian-Macedonian

West Slavic: including Czech, Slovak and Polish

East Slavic: including Russian, Ukrainian and Belarussian

These Slavic languages also share some common attributes with the neighbouring Baltic languages comprising Lithuanian and Latvian.

Since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, and subsequently Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, individual Slavic dialects have become identified as the official languages of the newly formed states, whilst some countries have more than one official language. As a consequence translations may need to be specifically adapted for the target audience in particular countries. Our native translators can ensure that you are genuinely speaking the language of your client or customer.

Geographically, the Eastern European area is also shared with other non-Slavic languages such as Romanian, Estonian, Hungarian and German. In the neighbouring Caucasus, Turkic languages are spoken in Azerbaijan and Armenia, whilst the distinctive language of Georgia is of unknown origin.


A further complication is the use of different scripts. Cyrillic script is used to write all East Slav languages plus Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian. However other languages such as Polish and Czech use Latin script together with special diacritic signs to represent particular sounds.

Just to confuse matters, Cyrillic script is also used by several non-Slavic languages: Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik, as well as Mongolian, so it may not always be easy to identify the language of a document if the source is not specified!


What are the particular challenges of translation between Slavonic languages and English?


As a translator between Polish and English, I was asked about the translation challenges posed by the differences between the two languages.

The main difference is grammar, which is significantly more complex in Polish, with different suffixes added to words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs etc.) in sentences, depending on a particular case, tense, person or gender. And unlike just a couple of mostly regular suffixes in English (-ed for verbs in past tense or -s for nouns in plural), the suffixes in Polish are numerous and different for each 7 noun cases, 3 verb tenses, 6 persons and 3 genders. This may be troublesome for a non-native translator of Polish and will require a great attention to detail.

Polish is also more sensitive when it comes to the use of language and style. Written Polish seems to be more formal comparing to English and when translating one must avoid repetitions, ensure proper collocations and carefully adapt the language to a given register.

English vocabulary is of a larger volume, there is a greater specificity of words, which in the absence of equivalents in Polish must be paraphrased. This often expands the volume of translated text and may pose a problem when the space is an important factor (e.g. subtitling).