Organization develops language tool to help people communicate about COVID-19
DANBURY, Conn., USA – 8 June, 2020
Translators without Borders (TWB) has developed a glossary in 33 languages to address language barriers involving COVID-19. This glossary will help health workers, global humanitarian organizations, and community-based responders communicate more effectively and consistently about COVID-19. It will help people to access information they need, regardless of the language they speak.
“Our research on Ebola found that the wrong terminology creates fear and confusion. Many health communicators lacked support to translate key concepts,” says TWB Executive Director Aimee Ansari. “COVID-19 is a terrifying and unprecedented challenge to global health. We hope that this glossary can help health workers, responders, and speakers of marginalized languages communicate more confidently and keep themselves safe.”
The TWB Glossary for COVID-19 includes terms commonly associated with COVID-19 including “physical distancing,” “vaccination,” “quarantine,” and “face mask.” Many technical terms have become familiar to English speakers during the pandemic. However, many of those terms did not previously exist in other languages and cultural contexts. The glossary suggests equivalent terms where they haven’t previously existed. For example, there is no obvious translation of “physical distancing” in Swahili. Instead, TWB recommends using kukaa mbali na mtu mwingine, which means “stay away from each other.” And in Bangladesh, “COVID-19” is hardly ever used by Rohingya people. Instead, TWB recommends using “coronavirus.”
The TWB Glossary for COVID-19 can be used both on- and offline, helping responders even if they have low internet connectivity.
The TWB Glossary for COVID-19 was funded by the H2H Fund, which is supported by UK aid from the UK government. In addition, this work is supported by generous leaders in the language services industry, including RWS Moravia, Lionbridge, Smartling, and WeLocalize.
Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll update the glossary with more languages, terms, definitions, and topics. If you have a suggestion for the glossary, please share it with us through this feedback form.
The project is funded by the H2H Fund, a funding mechanism for H2H Network members. The fund is a rapid funding vehicle for network members responding to humanitarian crises.
About Translators without Borders
Translators without Borders believes that everyone has the right to give and receive information in a language and format they understand. We work with nonprofit partners and a global community of language professionals to build local language translation capacity, and raise awareness of language barriers. Originally founded in 1993 in France (as Traducteurs sans Frontières), TWB translates millions of words of lifesaving and life-changing information a year.
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