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Translating For Your Multicultural Audience and the Possible Implications For Your Business

13th, October, 2020

Reference link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-13/coronavirus-messages-translated-to-nonsense-in-other-languages/12550520

Translating important documents with clarity and accuracy is essential, regardless of your industry. When it comes to communicating essential health, education and informational material, an inaccurate translation could not only be embarrassing but potentially catastrophic for the stakeholder and the target audience.

It is vital to have a go-to professional translation service with well-versed translators in your corner who go through your documents with extreme care while translating in order to avoid situations that predispose people and companies to harm or embarrassment.

That is why it was particularly surprising when a recent image tweeted by the Federal Government read, “Use your language supplied information“. As surprising and confusing as this message must have left you, you must also agree that there was no communication as the message was poorly translated. This poorly translated message was intended to inform Chinese speakers on where they could find up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

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image provided by www.abc.net.au

Unfortunately, this is just one out of a number of poor translations impacting public health resources. Another Federal Health Department campaign, which was directed towards Arabic speakers and focused on the topic of face mask use, suffered from such drastic sub-par formatting that it was dubbed “gibberish” and “nonsensical” by Deena Yako, the Public Education Coordinator for the Refugee Council of Australia.

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image provided by www.abc.net.au

This initially poses the question – did the government place their trust in a professional translation services provider for these important translations?

Let’s look at another instance. This happened in Victoria, where a poster focusing on face mask use completely confused two entirely distinct languages – Farsi and Arabic – within a single infographic. You can probably imagine the confusion running amok in the eyes of people who understand Arabic or Farsi when they see themselves doing different things from the same information.

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image provided by www.abc.net.au

It’s unsurprising, then, that after the errors in these coronavirus information materials came to light, the Federal and Victorian governments have come under intense public scrutiny. Indeed, concerns regarding the inaccuracy of information being sent to multicultural audiences in Australia have risen dramatically.

If you had listened to Carla Wilshire, Chief Executive of Migration Council Australia recently, you will understand that the health information being pushed to migrant communities “has been a little bit hit and miss”. She highlighted that the materials were either highly formal or contained syntax errors and multiple grammar mistakes. Moreover, the result of a rush to publish and deliver information to migrant communities was that a range of translations were then produced, which caused further complications in being able to guarantee equal access to this health information.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the international humanitarian sector placed a heavy emphasis on equal access to information – for all communities and cultures in Australia – which was fundamental to response and recovery operations. And with the impact of this pandemic on our country only growing, the ability to accurately convey public health information in a variety of languages has become even more important.

The reason for this is simple, too, as studies have shown that some communities are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others. In fact, the CDC and OECD have identified refugees and migrant labourers as being amongst those at a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, due to their living or working conditions.

Just think – if those communities are then unable to access the relevant public health information, information which could help limit further wide scale transmission, the consequences could be extreme.

This only goes to show that quality translations of health information must be considered a human right for our nation, as opposed to an afterthought or luxury.

Indeed, one point of great pride in Australia is the vibrancy of our mixed culture. In fact, we are one of the most linguistically diverse populations in the world, with more than 270 identified ancestries.

In order to therefore tackle further health inequalities, and to rebuild public trust in the government’s coronavirus management measures, it is imperative that public health messaging for a multicultural audience becomes a critical component of all initiatives.

With federal and state level authorities now claiming that inaccurately translated materials have been rectified, and the Federal Department of Health assuring the public that they are introducing systems by which translators will double-check materials as soon as they are published, it can be said that further progress has been made.

Despite the progress, Carla Wilshire has continued to advocate for translated materials to be triple-checked by professional and accredited translators before publishing. An opinion that we at Linguistico share. Indeed, our ‘second pair of eyes policy’, where third party independent editors review translated documents for precision and cohesiveness, ensures that any lingering errors or inconsistencies are picked up well into the earliest drafting stages.

As one of the most experienced professional Australian translation providers, we fully support the federal and state governments in their efforts to improve their public health messaging. Effectively communicating health information to multicultural and vulnerable migrant communities is incredibly important, especially in present times.

Having worked in the Australian market for many years, we have produced translations for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Department of Social Services, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), and numerous healthcare projects for our pharmaceutical and healthcare clients. We understand the complexity that accompanies translating these important publications, as well as the need to ensure every translation is as comprehensive, correct and clear as it can possibly be.

To achieve this, our guiding principle is to never use machine translations. Instead, we consistently produce world-class quality translations with our industry experienced NAATI certified translators, who utilise the cultural and linguistic understanding essential for effectively engaging each target audience.

If you are interested in expanding your own reach to include multicultural readers, Linguistico is here to help you translate important documents and materials to serve the needs of your culturally diverse audience. Contact us and be confident in the knowledge that your translations are completely accurate, produced by the highest-calibre accredited translators committed to helping communicate your message.

As mentioned previously, access to reliable and comprehensible information should be a right of all communities within Australia. You can ensure your own professional documents meet that standard with assistance from Linguistico under our stringent document translation process.

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