Educational genres

Biomedical textbook


University student


Immune system



Source Text in English

As we shall see, the immune system achieves specificity and diversity by generating a large number of distinct proteins, such as antibodies and specific cell-surface receptors, each of which can bind very tightly to a target antigen such as a pathogenic molecule, but not to other, perhaps structurally very similar, molecules.

Memory and tolerance depend on complex cellular systems. They are accomplished through the generation of a massively diverse set of cell-surface receptors that bind specific antigens. Cells that display these receptors have been “trained” so that they are largely unresponsive to self components (self-tolerant).

Target Text in Spanish

Como se verá, la especificidad y la diversidad logradas por el sistema inmunitario se explican por la gran cantidad de proteínas distintas que genera, como los anticuerpos y los receptores específicos de la superficie celular. Estos se unen con gran afinidad a una diana antigénica, como una molécula patógena, pero no a otras moléculas de estructura quizá muy similar.

La memoria y la tolerancia dependen de sistemas celulares complejos. Ambas se consiguen mediante la generación de un conjunto extraordinariamente diverso de receptores de la superficie celular que ligan antígenos específicos. Las células que expresan estos receptores han recibido “entrenamiento” para minimizar su reactividad a los componentes propios (autotolerancia).


Reading flow is paramount in a textbook. Students read the book to assimilate complex concepts, and they’re not well served by having to read a clunky, unwieldy text. Using a simple, direct language is an exercise in empathy with the reader and enhances understanding of the contents.


Initially, the possibility of using the first-person plural was considered in order to establish a relationship between experts and students similar to the one expressed in the original. However, extra-textual constraints such as client’s traditional practices served as the main criterion for choosing impersonality (“Como se verá”).


When a direct translation is inappropriate in the target language, it’s necessary to understand, absorb and reformulate the message in a different way from the source clause. The translation by transposition of “largely unresponsive” by “minimizar su reactividad” expresses the direct effects of training on a cell attribute (decrease of reactivity).

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