Writing for the Utica newspaper, Sarah Tracey describes a problem that hospitals, the judicial system, transit agencies, health departments, and other public and nonprofit organizations are facing:
Imagine a Russian man going to a doctor and trying to explain that he has angina.
The doctor might see that as a heart condition, but in Russian, it means he has a sore throat.
With ever-increasing numbers of refugees and immigrants in the area, navigating language and cultural differences in ethically complicated settings, such as a hospital room or as a defendant in a courtroom, can be a challenge.Tracey's article highlights the importance of accurate, responsive interpreters, but the message also applies to accurate, responsive translators.
Interpreting English for customers: To help gain that flexibility, I led a graphic design task in my agency to support use of our existing alternative. It's built on the agency's use of interpreters to aid customers with limited English proficiency when they phone the customer information office.
Translating in plain language: In addition, as an editor concerned about clear, concise writing, I wanted to build plain-language principles into the translation policy. If county writers follow those principles, I urged, our materials would be easier and less costly to translate into other languages, with fewer errors.
Doing that would also benefit readers with limited English proficiency who are learning English as a second language. As an important side benefit of the effort, our materials would be easier for literate English speakers to understand and use.
- Focusing on your reader and purpose
- Organizing your ideas
- Writing clear, effective paragraphs
- Writing clear, simple sentences
- Using suitable words
- Creating an enticing design
- Testing for clarity.