Global Rheumatology launches its Portuguese version

By :
    Fernando Neubarth
    Médico y escritor. Especialista en Clínica Médica y Reumatología, Presidente de la Sociedad Brasileña de Reumatología/SBR 2006-2008. Presidente del Consejo Consultivo de la SBR.

    Estefanía Fajardo
    Periodista científica de Global Rheumatology by PANLAR.

29 October, 2021
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The articles in the journal will be available in Spanish, English and Portuguese, aiming to reach all audiences and acknowledge the importance of research and science being produced in our region.


EF: Hello everyone and welcome to a new videoblog from Global Rheumatology. Today we will launch the new Portuguese version of our journal. We are joined by Dr. Fernando Neubarth, a Global Rheumatology columnist and rheumatologist, who will discuss with us the importance of having our journal in Spanish, English and Portuguese. Welcome, doctor. 

FN: Thank you. It is an honor to be here for PANLAR rheumatology and being interviewed by you, Estefanía.  

EF: What is the importance of having a Portuguese version of a journal such as Global Rheumatology?

FN: I see it as something of great importance, mainly thinking of the history of the Brazilian Society of Rheumatology as one of the members of this League of Associations of Rheumatology that is PANLAR. Although we are the only Portuguese-speaking Association, Brazilian rheumatology has always had a historical significance in PANLAR. We held the first PANLAR Congress in 1955, and contributed with 3 of PANLAR presidents: the late Professor Pedro Nava, Professor Adil Muhib Samara, and Professor Antônio Carlos Ximenes, of whom I had the honor of being Secretary-General. 

In Brazilian rheumatology we already have almost 3000 rheumatologists in the whole country, then, number-wise, I consider it important, also as a gesture of rapprochement between PANLAR and Brazilian rheumatology.

EF: English has become the language of science. How do you see this? Do you think this can be changed?

FN: I think so. I think we should think about it. Thinking about history I usually say that today we are living in a very important moment in the history of civilization. 500 years ago, we had Gutenberg, the arrival of the printing press, and we started to have a democratization of information through the publication of knowledge, and by this there was a total change in terms of geopolitics and even of power, of the church that dominated science at that time. In this same way we are now living, from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, an important time. 

Today, with the internet information is being again democratized, radically. We have instant information, but we are also faced with a dilemma, which is to make people trust the information published on the internet. 

If we look at it in parallel, even thinking about the hegemony of a language in scientific publications, we can see that it does not come from so long ago. Until the beginning of the 20th century French dominated scientific publications. French, German, even Mandarin, and then after the 2 great wars, English ended up dominating in terms of science, and also of geopolitics. I think it is important that people think, not that I want to make a revolution but, that these things change, we do not know who will have the power during the next century, it might be that we will have a Chinese hegemony within scientific information. 

I think what is really going to happen, and what is likely to happen, looking at the bright side of technology, is that we are going to have translation tools that will allow people to speak and write in their own language and easily understand each other in each other’s language. I think that is something that can happen and certainly will happen, and I think that Global Rheumatology is stepping up in relation to this.

EF: According to your position, is it still valid to publish in Portuguese?

FN: Yes, it is. But obviously we have a major difficulty, as all countries and languages, there is a barrier for non-English publications in the scientific community. There is a difficulty in relation to this, caused by us here in Brazil, we even ended up changing the name of our journal, we had the Brazilian Rheumatology Journal that is today titled Advances in Rheumatology, because publications must be in English to be more easily accepted. We cannot deny that there is also a facilitation in terms of a language that is unique for communication, in a way, but it is a paradox. This is because it is very hard for people to learn another language, they can learn to some extent, but when it comes to a scientific article, it has so many nuances, peculiarities, that forcing someone, so to speak, to write in a language that is not their own, can cause a loss of naturalness, some things are lost in the details, small details of science. And that would be important if we could write in our language and somehow be understood by the other in their language. 

EF: According to you, what is our position in the world of scientific publications now that we are published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese?

FN: As I mentioned before, I believe that by having this publication in these three languages we are, first of all, fulfilling an obligation, so to speak, to PANLAR’s members. I think that we are showing respect towards the language of the members, the language of the societies affiliated to PANLAR. I believe that this has a vision, perhaps even political, but also of respect for the members. On the other hand, I believe that this encourages people to publish in their native languages, since with this system of translations, they can be understood by others.

There are studies that show that there is a large decrease, a huge pent-up demand in terms of scientific publications in different languages. Even people who have lived for a long time in the United States, for example, or in England, sometimes have difficulties to publish or…there are studies that show that they somehow have inhibitions in relation to their publications, when they publish in a language that is not their own. 

I believe that this issue of publishing in the native language, in one’s mother tongue, is very important because science, at least medicine, is not an exact science, it is different from publishing an academic paper in engineering, in mathematics, or publishing something related to science in another language. Take for example our day to day with our patients, whom we cannot treat with incomprehensible medical jargon, with a scientific medical language. We have to communicate with them in the language that allows them to easily understand what we want to explain and so they can also feel free to share their feelings and concerns in the way they understand it. And if sometimes we have that difficulty with our patients, for example, in a mainland country such as Brazil, where people speak different dialects, although they all speak Portuguese, there are many nuances. As in Colombia, we have people from certain regions that have some idiosyncrasies, different ways of speaking, and that is important for communication, being flexible with our language. And I believe this is also very important in science and scientific publications.   

EF: Then, we could say that research and publications made in Spanish and Portuguese are also relevant to research and science being produced in our region…

FN: I have absolutely no doubt about it, I believe that this is a struggle that we must have in terms of communication.

Today we are living a peculiar moment in relation to this, aren’t we? Right now, we are facing a pandemic. Fortunately, it seems that we are emerging from this difficult time, but if you see how important it is for us to understand that we are living in a globalized world with some issues, globalization does not work for everything. Take for example, in relation to economic and political issues, Brexit. It is not possible to equalize different countries, different cultures and try to make them have the same standard, whether it is currency or language.

If we do that, we will lose much of the richness and peculiarity of each of our countries, just as we lose much of the richness and personality of each human being. If we had to think of our patients as if they were all the same, if they were all from the same family, if they all had the same disease…again, another example related to this, we do not treat diseases, we treat people who have certain diseases, certain pathologies. If we treat a disease the same for all of our patients, we are doing it wrong. William Osler said that, you don’t treat the disease, you treat the patient who has the disease. This is what makes the difference. 

EF: Does the fact that English is the lingua franca excludes research from our countries in this process?

FN: I wouldn’t say that it is excluded, but it makes it difficult. If we could encourage countries, or if most researchers had an open mind to be able to publish or think science in their language and then, from that result, we could somehow transfer and adapt this knowledge, and then translate it, that I think would be the way. The great Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa once said “My country is the Portuguese language”. We think in our language, we do science in our language, we manage to think differently in a different language, so, if we could…that is also valid for literature, in a poem, how difficult it is to translate a poem. It is important that we have a good Spanish translator when translating Gabriel García Márquez into Portuguese, if the translator does not have much knowledge of Spanish, much is lost in translation. And it is important not only knowing Spanish, but knowing Colombian Spanish, Spanish from Barranquilla, the Spanish that has certain nuances that Gabriel García Márquez wrote thinking of his Macondo, of his village.

So, I believe that this possibility of people being encouraged to publish in their native language could be a boost for global science. I think we lose a lot with this segmentation, and I don’t just mean in relation to English, how much information do we have about the science being done in the East or why we don’t have an understanding of what they have, how much is lost…What the Western world doesn’t by not knowing Eastern medicine well, and how many things certainly the East loses by not knowing Western medicine. I think this is something in which we need to think a lot and what about these publications in three languages that we have there. I think they are very important. 

EF: About that, how do you see the future of Global Rheumatology with its current editorial line and the objectives of publishing in three languages?

FN: I see that Global Rheumatology is taking a step forward. The journal has one year, and I see it as a cutting-edge journal that looks into the future, and this is not only my impression. It seems to me that there are many people who project that in the future we will have scientific publications in at least three or four languages. We will have English, that is for sure, but we will probably have other languages, maybe German, French, Spanish and even Portuguese as languages in which the publications will be republished and as I said, be linked in some way and this will happen through good translations and good adaptations.

I believe we will have it in the future, even with the use of Artificial Intelligence, so far these translators are in their early stages, but there are a lot of advantages related to that and I believe that they will advance even more, to the extent that we can enrich this artificial intelligence system with more idioms, more dialects and with a greater understanding of what a given term may mean, we will have an even easier translation.

And with that we will be able to have a much more natural science, more real, a more truthful publication and, again, when I talk about a scientific publication, I am thinking of a publication that is not only scientific but also a romance or a science fiction, that can be translated much more accurately. 

We have seen in the past the issue of thinking in one language, we have had Latin and we have tried Esperanto and it did not work. I think having Global Rheumatology with this idea in three languages, will also serve to encourage publishing in our native language, which is really something that perhaps, even ourselves don’t realize how important and cutting-edge it will be in the future. This idea will be certainly valued, it is not an initial idea, but the effect it has on PANLAR.

EF: Finally, what message do you send to your colleagues about the launch of the Portuguese version of Global Rheumatology?

FN: I think this is an invitation for an enhanced participation of Brazilian colleagues, an invitation to a more effective participation at every level in PANLAR. It is also an invitation to a stronger union of our Pan-American League of Rheumatology. Furthermore, I believe this is a political lesson of rapprochement, we need to work together in a much more effective way, there is a great need for progress, not only scientific, but also political and social of our nations. We are unstable nations, from the social point of view and we have so many needs, our patients need us and our science and I think that is also a gesture of rapprochement so we can have a much stronger and united Pan-American League of Rheumatology, even if we do not speak the same language, we think alike and we care about our development and the well being of our patients. 

So, I think this is a great invitation, to participate and become closer, not only for Brazilians, but also for all the Latin American brothers, Spanish and English speakers, so that we can get to know each other in a more effective way.

EF: Doctor, thank you very much for joining us in this new Global Rheumatology videoblog.

FN: Thanks to you. I thank those who have listened to me and those who have been participating in this journal from the beginning, for the great enthusiasm that exist in this journal through PANLAR and through its editor in chief, Dr. Carlos Caballero Uribe, who I would like to thank especially. My recognition also to Estefanía and the entire editorial group that has always treated us all with the greatest kindness and the greatest concern, even in the translations that are made, which are so attentive and so respectful with the thoughts and language of each one of us. So, thank you very much and congratulations for all this. I think we are making a great historical achievement with Global Rheumatology. Thank you very much. 


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