Alpha Omega Blog

How Expertise in Translation and Localization Helps Global Health and Development Projects Succeed

International development projects create healthier populations, ensure natural resource development is responsible and sustainable, and offer relief to communities suffering from sub-standard living conditions. NGO researchers, developers, and humanitarian aid workers cannot work effectively without proper translation and localization services.

For example, in Africa, according to a UNESCO policy brief, the mass media employs at least 242 African languages, the judicial system uses at least 63 languages, and 56 languages are used in public administration. Demand for translation services in major languages such as Amharic, Hausa, Swahili, and Yoruba is on the rise by both business and humanitarian entities.

hand holding a green plant

Many questions arise about translation efforts for businesses and organizations working on international development projects:

  • What languages are spoken and read in the area?
  • How do you address different cultural, political, and legal aspects of your development project with leadership in the community?
  • How do you create training programs, employee handbooks, and safety procedure manuals that are easily understood by cultures with different social norms, not just languages?
  • What changes must you make to reports and research papers to be understood by all parties?
  • How do you cite measurements, data, and scientific information to be understood and effective?

Making Resources Available to the International Community

Members of the AOT team recently attended the annual Devex conference. The organization provides business and recruiting information that helps various parties come together in service of thousands of foreign assistance projects worldwide. This conference focused on new technological assets for responsible energy development.

Devex uses content sharing and social networking tools to dramatically reduce the time and expense typically devoted to recruiting and information gathering. These documents not only require translation in to multiple languages, but also need the expertise of linguists to translate concepts into language understood within local cultural norms.

Applying new western technologies and methods to any project in a community that speaks different languages, however, is impossible without effective, nuanced communication. Translation and localization between project leaders and local workers and managers who will implement and maintain these projects is crucial.

What is the Difference Between Translation and Localization?

People often confuse localization with translation, but localization involves more than simply translating text word-for-word. Localization refers to the process of doing whatever is necessary to make a concept or content understood in another culture.

As an example, there is no word for “rape” in Swahili. For humanitarian organizations working to improve women’s health and well-being in Uganda, communicating the concept in an accurate, culturally sensitive manner is necessary to assist victims (who feel just as victimized as any other rape survivor) and discourage the practice of forcing young girls and women against their will (to men who don’t even consider it wrong).

Also, keep in mind that while many countries share the same language, the cultural context could be entirely different. Therefore, understanding the distinctions from community to community is important.

Case Study: USAID-Funded Climate Links

Mercy Corps Fellow Kelly Kurz and Peace Core Volunteer Kristin Lambert collaborated on an effort that brought farmers and climate change experts together in in Niger. In a June 2018 article for Climate Links, they describe a project with many moving parts, none of which would have been successful without the help of the most experienced linguists.

Under the USAID-funded Climate Information Services Research Initiative (CISRI), a Mercy Corps-led project held a series of participatory workshops in Zinder, Niger, with climate information providers, users, and interpreters to identify the factors that influence how climate information reaches farmers. These conversations became the foundation for locally led improvements to the communication system between scientists, the media, and farmers.

In Zinder farmers use knowledge gained through generations of observation and experience. With the effects of climate change, however, they need additional information from climate experts to continue their work. Consider the following:

  • For generations, certain birds sang before a significant rain, and a species of tree grew new leaves before the dry season. Wind patterns changed predictably during summer and winter. How do local farmers describe these occurrences? And how do we translate that to scientific data in English for USAID?
  • As the indicators above have shifted due to climate change, farmers are facing increasing challenges to read nature’s signs of seasons and weather. Not only does it threaten the way of life of these farmers, it also affects the result of their harvest and therefore the food supply.

“Preliminary findings show that most information reaches farmers via radio broadcasts, mayoral offices, and word of mouth,” Kurtz and Lambert write. “While public and private climate research organizations operate in Niger, climate information is rarely shared back with farmers, comes largely after they needed to make key decisions, or lacks the context needed to inform their decisions.”

By bringing both local and researched-based knowledge to the table, all parties learned from and educated one another to better understand the effects of climate change in west Africa. The potential for this project is endlessly exciting, the results of which could help both the food supply locally and understanding of the specific consequences of climate change for the global interest.

However, the project can only attain such lofty goals by ensuring communication between the various parties is clear, culturally sensitive, and consistent throughout the workshops. And resulting reports and guidelines offer the same challenge for both farmers and scientists.

In Zinder, there are five spoken languages: French, Hausa, Djerma, Fulfulde, and Tamashek. This requires a team of translators to work together at both the workshops to ensure everyone understands one another, and in creating documents made to implement improvements to the communication system between climate experts and farmers.

This is why translation and localization experts worked together with the farmers and the scientists in this effort. By ensuring clear communication and documentation of these workshops, the project made it possible for farmers to adapt to new patterns and save their crops. And scientist now have a rich source of data to apply to their efforts to better understand new patterns of weather and season created by climate change.

“Communities and national stakeholders alike value this farmer-focused approach as they gain insights into a system many recognized as broken but could not change alone,” they write. “Maman Ousmane, a Nigerien farmer, says it best. ‘These discussions were useful because there was a consideration of our answers. It was our experiences and our observations that were asked each time. We are very grateful that we have been brought together to share our perspectives and knowledge and to speak with one voice.’”

It All Comes Down to Experience

As in the case study above, accurate and culturally sensitive communication between various stakeholders in a development project was key to its success. NGO researchers, natural resource developers, and agents of humanitarian organizations work to ensure sustainable development and improve the health and living conditions of people all over the world. Alpha Omega Translations has also contributed its services to projects with UNICEF in Niger and Development Finance: Impact Investing for Africa, Asia, and Latin America, for example, to translate studies, reports, and employee handbooks into multiple languages. AOT has also translated handbooks for proper procedures to avoid infections in public health services.

To ensure your development project is successful, don’t skimp on translation services. Communicating with local relief workers, health care professionals, engineers, and the communities you want to help requires an understanding of cultural traditions and customs that your prospective beneficiaries practice before construction, implementation, or administration of health care begins.

Contact us today learn how our services can help your development project succeed!

Key Tips for Finding a Manufacturing Translation Services Provider

Manufacturing is a worldwide endeavor. For this and other reasons, more companies turn to manufacturing translation services to ensure that their message is being communicated to a worldwide audience. Clearly, taking steps to guarantee that your message is accurately communicated is a vital part of expanding your reach and client base.

But there is another, perhaps bigger, challenge facing the manufacturing industry. Today, the process of converting raw materials into finished products often involves multiple countries, locations, and languages.

manufacturing translation services

As industrial manufacturing companies increasingly expand into international markets, it becomes increasingly challenging to coordinate all the communication and instruction points along the way.

To compete in today’s globally connected world, manufacturing companies need a language service partner who really understands the challenges of not just technical translation, but also how to ensure the flow of information is seamless, fast, and accurate. In this blog article, we discuss key criteria you may want to consider before choosing an LSP for your manufacturing translation services.

Let’s go to work!

Tip #1: Language Industry Experience

While any quality-conscious business will consider the level of experience of an LSP, this tip bears emphasizing when it comes to technical translation. The need for clear and accurate translations is especially important in manufacturing, engineering, or science. And because of the technical nature of the text, in most cases, it’s not sufficient to use a native speaker. You will also want professional translators qualified in specific subject areas.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. How long has the LSP been in business?
  2. Who are the key personnel you’ll be working with and what are their work histories?
  3. Are there current clients you could talk with or testimonials to read?

Although there’s not necessarily a direct correlation between years in business and quality of service, the odds are good that LSPs that have been around longer have a better understanding of the industry and can guide you as your business grows. Established players in the area of manufacturing translation services with strong testimonials are likely to be solid choices.

Tip #2: Accreditation

 Pay attention to any relevant accreditations that your prospective LSP has attained. If your LSP is a member of an organization like GALA (the Globalization and Localization Association), that’s a good indication that they are committed to upholding industry-wide values. 

Tip #3: Manufacturing Translation Experience

Not all translation types are the same. If you’ve used an LSP to help your company with a marketing project, for example, that doesn’t mean you can expect the same quality of work for technical translation. Make sure your contact at the prospective manufacturing translation services provider can speak to the specifics of your project and you are comfortable that their experts understand technical translation requirements.

Tip #4: Sample Project and Sample Translation

Often the best way to gauge the quality of the work you’ll receive is also the simplest. If an LSP is serious about delivering on what they promise, they should have no trouble sharing a sample translation or walking you through a previous project as a sample to give you a sense of what you can expect.

Here’s an example of what a sample project might look like:

A Sample Project:

At Alpha Omega Translations, our expert linguists and translation professionals regularly complete technical translation projects for manufacturing companies in need of adapting their instruction manuals, manufacturing documents, patents, and other multilingual projects.

Manufacturing equipment and software is often used by people around the world who need to understand all of the instructions in order for devices to work properly and to ensure the safety of everyone involved. For this reason, manufacturing companies commission Alpha Omega Translations to complete translations (along with review, quality assurance, and proofreading) of their technical manuals.

Recently, Alpha Omega completed an instruction manual translation for a world leader in industrial weighing and automation. The manual was to provide information about a product upgrade.

Key info:

  • Because of the project scope (over 150 pages), our client delivered original files for translation in several pieces over the course of two months.
  • Most of the text was in Word and Excel, along with some CAD drawings and supporting files in PDF format.
  • Our experts collected all of the files and used specialized tools to streamline the data into a single, consistent, user-friendly file format.
  • Then our layout experts took over the work of rearranging the files and content (text and images) into an appropriate, source-based template.

Some of the PDF files turned out to be problematic. Regardless of some small snags along the way, our team of specialists dealt with all the issues and succeeded in completing all the work on time and to our client’s full satisfaction.

Sample projects and sample translations are an important part of the hiring process because it will help you decide what level of knowledge of the industry, products, and practices you require. This is also important because it gives you the chance to gain valuable insight into their approach to work and any possible red flags before you commit to an expensive and lengthy contract. 

Tip #5: Dedicated Project Management

Finally, as you consider what kind of LSP is best for your manufacturing translation services, you’ll want to bear in mind that for any large translation or localization project, several individuals will be involved throughout the process.

At Alpha Omega, we believe strongly that having a dedicated project manager is crucial to keeping your project on track. That’s why we assign two dedicated project managers to each client project. Project managers decide how best to organize workflow, assign tasks, and set up milestones. Insisting on a project manager with your LSP also means you will have a clear point of contact for status updates or any questions that may arise.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we understand the challenges companies face when operating globally. For this reason, we tailor our manufacturing translation services to our clients’ needs and business structure. Whether you are a global business seeking integration across business units or a mid-size manufacturer looking for the right partner to support you on your global journey, we have a solution for you. Request your free quote today!

More Than Words: Using Marketing Transcreation to Reach Global Audiences

It’s one of the first rules of marketing: engage your target audience. When it comes to translating marketing content for a global audience, engaging your target audience means more than accurately translating campaigns into different languages. It means using marketing transcreation.marketing transcreation

Marketing transcreation? What’s that?

If you’ve never heard the term ‘marketing transcreation,’ fear not. We’ll explain everything below. Suffice it to say, if you don’t consider marketing transcreation for your campaigns in foreign markets, your audience will know. Even a technically accurate translation looks like a poortranslation without it. Your audience will immediately recognize that your campaign was written in a different language and they will feel like an afterthought—the opposite of engaged.

In this article, we discuss significant differences between translation and transcreation, when transcreation is necessary, and how to use marketing translation to reach globalaudiences. So, let’s get started.

Marketing Translation vs. Marketing Transcreation

 There’s a big difference between translating technical, legal, medical, or scientific documents and translating media content, literature, or marketing. The difference has to do with the objectives of technical translation vs. creative translation. Technical translation requires conceptual exactness and terminological precision.

For marketing copy, though, successfully conveying the original text in a way that preserves the same intent requires symbolism, puns, and metaphor. The objective of marketing copy is to target human emotions rather than simply conveying information. Doing this well requires translators who do not simply “know” another language, but who are also creative writers themselves.

Unlike direct translation, marketing transcreation involves additional content adaptation and in many cases, customized imagery.

To offer a simple example: in the U.S., marketing information for Walt Disney World might describe the park as “half the size of Rhode Island.” But since this is not a reference most people in non-U.S. markets understand, in Japan, the campaign compares Disney World to Tokyo’s subway system and in the U.K., it’s described as the size of Grater Manchester.

As may be obvious by now, marketing transcreation requires a specific set of skills including copywriting skills. Instead of simply providing text, transcreation specialists may start with a creative brief for a specific campaign. The purpose of transcreation is, above all, to produce new copy that resonates in a new foreign market. While the original concept remains, the message sounds, feels, and looks brand new.

Transcreation also modifies images and recreates the visual context fora campaign, since visuals are important for communicating human emotions. Working together with localization, transcreation makes recommendations for adapting functions and features for digital content too. For instance, a call-to-action button might link to a different service or offering in the Spanish version of your company’s website.

At the end of the process, a transcreated press release, webpage, multimedia presentation, advertisement, brochure, news article, or email newsletter takes on a lifeof its own.

When to Transcreate

 Now that we understand the difference between translation and transcreation, let’s discuss when transcreation is most beneficial for global businesses.

Transcreation is worthwhile for:

  • Content that includes local references, wordplay, or humor.
  • Content in which cultural relevancy is critical to connecting with a local market.
  • Campaigns targeting local, specific personas, rather than a general global persona.

In addition, perhaps the biggest benefit for transcreation is that it gives your marketing team a common platform for interacting and communicating with other marketers in your target foreign market. The marketing research benefits of transcreation cannot be understated.

Marketing transcreation allows your team to:

  • Work with local editors and writers who have inside knowledge of the local market and current affairs.
  • Create program-specific guidelines and editorial standards for contributors in different countries to build a consistent brand voice and messaging.
  • Localize keywords for higher reach and optimize articles for search in local languages.

Still not convinced? Currently, 52% of website copy is written in English and most brands seem unaware of the extent to which bad translations can make content ineffective or even unintelligible. While it’s hard to measure how much this could affect audience engagement in the long-run, ask yourself: How long would I stay on a webpage that treats me as an afterthought, or, worse, doesn’t make sense at all? 

How to Use Transcreation to Reach International Audiences

 Once you’re convinced that it’s time for your company to explore transcreation, you’ll want to hire the right language partner. But before you take the plunge, make sure you do your homework. If you don’t have at least a working knowledge of how to use transcreation to reach international audiences, you will be at the mercy of your LSP.

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind:

1. Do some competitive analysis

We recommend doing some market research prior to starting the marketing transcreation process to find out how your competitors in the same markets create their messages. Also, it’s helpful to identify any trends popular in the culture.

It’s a good idea to find a language partner who can do this research too and then compare notes. Decide together what it will take for your marketing content to be successful in the target market.

2. Choose a language partner who understands the target audience

The right language service provider will build your translation project around the desired audience. It helps if, before you go to your chosen translation partner, you have a clear description of your ideal audience. This allows your agency to provide you with the best linguists.

3. Review, review, review

Once you receive the first version of your transcreated campaign, it’s a good idea to have it checked by an in-country reviewer. Don’t be afraid to tap into your resources in foreign markets. Ideally, this person will have marketing experience and understand the product or service you’re promoting.

4. Test

Use market-research to ask questions and gain valuable insights into your audience. Can you form a local focus group? Can you contact a marketing research group in your target market to work with your team to analyze your copy? This will get you the best feedback. If the messages pass the test, it’s time to roll out the campaign.

5. Measure performance

Don’t forget to come up with metrics to measure the success of your new campaign. Choose simple metrics at first to make sure your team can quickly analyze the results. Then stay consistent as you evaluate the success of your campaign across different markets. Of course, you may need to tweak your campaign along the way, so be ready to dedicate some time to the whole process.

Mastering the art of marketing transcreation requires time and money. But short of opening a marketing office to create original content for your target foreign markets, it’s the best way to target customers in a new market. If brands demand the best possible marketing copy in their home markets, why settle for second-rate content abroad?

At Alpha Omega Translations, we have specialists who understand marketing transcreation. For more than 20 years, our experts have worked with multinational companies on marketing materials and media related documents. We know the needs of this particular industry and we handpick marketing specialists for each transcreation project. Would you like to discuss your project? Request your free quote today!

Taking Your Business Global? Find a Language Partner to Leverage Localization to Increase International Revenue

For businesses successful in their domestic market, the temptation to expand overseas looms large. However, trying to duplicate that success internationally can be daunting. Fortunately, the right language partner can walk you through the process of using localization to increase international revenue.

localization to increase international revenue

Many questions surface for business owners considering making the leap to becoming a global name:

  • Do I need to create all new marketing materials?
  • What changes must I make to product development?
  • Is the risk really worth the investment when I’m doing so well in my home country?
  • Can’t my new customers rely on Google Translate to navigate my current website?
  • Where do I even begin?

These questions and many others are valid. Successfully using localization to increase international revenue requires special expertise. But as long as you go into the work with your eyes wide open and research the best way to introduce your business to your target country, there’s no need to fear the risks. Let’s start with the basics.

What is the Difference Between Translation and Localization?

People often confuse localization with translation, but localization actually involves more than simply translating text word-for-word. Localization refers to the process of doing whatever is necessary to make a product, website, or other content relevant to a foreign market.

Website localization includes combining efforts of different specialists to achieve more results than just having a website in a different language. Some words have different meanings in countries that speak the same language, so linguists design a strategy to overcome this, such as using a neutral version of the text or creating different versions for each country or region.

This aspect of localization is also important for SEO professionals, as the content will affect the results shown by web search engines for different versions of your website. So if different words are used for the same result in two or more countries, many users will not get the expected results.

Also, keep in mind that while many countries share the same language, the cultural context could be entirely different. So defining your target audience is essential to create the desired impact on the reader and in some cases avoid offending them.

There are some things that literally get lost in translation when localizing an online business. They may be small, but getting these details right, can make a huge difference in international customer satisfaction.

Here are four small things to take into account when localizing your website:

  1. What languages are spoken there?
  2. How do they like to pay?
  3. Does the language follow a different reading format?
  4. What currency is used?

Regardless of the size of your business, localization to increase international revenue should be a top priority when you’re going global.

How to Introduce Your Business to Foreign Markets

Introducing your business to new foreign markets takes time and research. Many businesses that decide to enter a foreign market for the first time make the mistake of following their gut instincts, rather than doing the necessary research. They may simply send their marketing materials to a language service provider requesting a literal translation.

In most cases, this is not a successful strategy. If your marketing isn’t sensitive to cultural norms, even the most technically accurate translation won’t resonate with your new audience. And your efforts will be wasted. But a trusted team of experts can show you how to leverage localization to increase international revenue.

1. Get to Know Your Target Market.

One of the key aspects of using localization to increase international revenue is the target audience. Even though many people can read in more than one language, most people prefer to browse the web in their mother tongue, rather than a secondary one. They also feel more comfortable buying if the content of the website they are visiting is in what they identify as their own language.

When you understand the cultural traditions and customs that your prospective customers practice before making any marketing decisions, you can better tailor your strategy to be successful.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to globalization. While this might seem obvious for marketing teams in the U.S. considering moving into non-English speaking markets, it can be equally important for moving into other English-speaking markets. Slogans, logos, and imagery that work perfectly in the U.S. may fall flat or even be perceived of as offensive in places like England, Australia, and Canada.

A good case to study of a company that didn’t do its research before branching out overseas is Walmart, which tried to find success in Japan back in 2005. However, one of Walmart’s slogans, “Every Day Low Prices,” was more than off-putting for Japanese customers, who come from a culture that believes cheap things are not good quality.

Any U.S.-based business looking to expand overseas can take a lesson from Walmart’s localization fail.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Legal System and Business Regulations.

You have probably already done some homework on the economic situation in your target market if you’re seriously considering expanding business in that country. But this is really the tip of the iceberg. You also need to understand the legal system, relevant regulations, and how changes to tariffs both in the U.S. and in your target country could affect sales.

That’s right, even the political landscape will play a role in how certain marketing campaigns will be received in a foreign market. Simply consider the current US-China dispute over trade and how that has rattled the steel and pork industries among others.

Are you ready to weather similar political storms in your industry?

3. Find a Reliable Translation Agency.

Once you have embarked on your globalization journey, there are a few things you should make sure to do right away. These include: Contacting a translation agency that will serve as your linguistic and cultural guide. A good translation agency will know exactly what to do in terms of content, formatting, and style to ensure your marketing campaign is a hit.

Translation, however, is a big task. Start by translating your website and other content into the language of your target market. According to one survey of over 3,000 global consumers, 75% of people prefer to buy from a website that is in their native language and from a shopping cart that has not been translated by Google translate with distorted text and formatting. Make sure the translation team you decide to work with is experienced in website translation and localization.

It All Comes Down to Brand Management

A strong brand is the key to sparking interest in a new locale and in driving customer loyalty. How do you adapt a brand for a foreign market without destroying its essence? There are lots of good examples of companies that have successfully expanded and used localization to increase international revenue.

McDonald’s is perhaps the best example. When you think about the billion-dollar burger company’s overall brand image, you think about the colors, the silly clown, and the fun. But besides that, you think about what Americans uniquely value about taking the family to McDonald’s: the cheap, quick meal for busy people on the go.

McDonald’s brand identity is how it makes us feel—in other words, the ambiance. Now, if you’ve ever been to a McDonald’s in a foreign country, you might have noticed it’s a bit more upscale. In a lot of emerging markets McDonald’s is a common place for a first date. But the ambiance is similar: McDonald’s is known worldwide for convenience and for selling quality food at a reasonable price.

So, McDonald’s in Dubai keeps the colors and the clown. They also offer core products like Coca-Cola and American-style French fries. Through localization, they have established what aspect of the brand to keep to support their core brand essence. But they have also successfully adapted a lot of their product offerings to the local market.

To make sure you don’t end up botching a campaign due to a lack of adequate research, remember one thing: Get to know the cultural traditions and customs that your prospective customers practice before making any marketing decisions.

All of that is simply a longwinded way to say, localization to increase international revenue boils down to “know your customer.” Keep that as your main credo and you will catch any problems before they even become problems.

Contact us today and let’s discuss how to increase international revenue for your business!

Professional Interpretation Services and Managing Your Bilingual Workforce

In our most recent blog post, we discussed how medical translation services save lives. Obviously, patients must be able to communicate in their native languages to receive the highest quality healthcare. Outside of the medical context though, professional interpretation professional interpretation servicesservices also save lives in less obvious, but no less important, ways.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic or Latino workers make up 27.3% of the U.S. workforce in construction. Other industries with high concentrations of Hispanic or Latino workers include agriculture (23.1%) and hospitality (22.3%). As the workforce becomes increasingly bilingual and diverse, employers will need to find innovative and effective ways to communicate with their staff.

This article discusses best practices for managing a bilingual workforce. Many of the below measures can make a significant difference. But there may be no substitute for professional interpretation services. At the least, making certain workers understand what is expected of them requires bringing in a trusted language partner at crucial points. Continue reading for tips on keeping your bilingual workforce safe and efficient.

Managing a Bilingual Workforce

While it’s not necessary for managers to be fluent in every language, it is important to make sure communications are clear and open for all. Strong communication gives workers the sense that you value them as part of your trusted team. In addition, taking the right precautions ensures success in critical areas, such as safety.

Numerous studies have found significantly higher occupational-injury rates among Hispanic and immigrant workers. And of the 991 U.S. private-sector, construction-related fatalities recorded in 2016, 29% involved Hispanic workers.

No doubt, employers and workers alike cite language barriers as one big obstacle to conveying safety information. But barriers to understanding many not be as simple as workers speaking a different language from management. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) points to several contributing factors including:

  • Immigrant workers’ unfamiliarity with certain tasks and safety procedures.
  • Immigrant workers’ work styles differing from what their employer requires.
  • Immigrant workers receiving little or no safety training.

Additionally, while workers may speak Spanish, they may have little formal education and their ability to read or comprehend Spanish in written form may be limited.

Learning how to better manage your bilingual workforce ensures your team that safety is a top priority. Focusing on areas such as developing skills and training will almost certainly require creating a set of best practices as the presence of Hispanic workers continues to rise.

What can business owners do to ensure the safety of their growing bilingual workforce?

Large corporations and unionized contractors have an advantage here. Being more closely scrutinized by OSHA and bound by safety-training regulations, they have fewer challenges managing bilingual workforces. With top-down systems and procedures in place, workers receive training from HR as a routine matter.

Still, large companies must do more than simply funneling workers through online training programs or in-person seminars with hundreds of participants. Look for opportunities to increase the number of multilingual speakers. Front-line supervisors should not be the only ones required to communicate in multiple languages. Support team members such as, HR, IT, engineering, and facility operations teams should be able to communicate in multiple languages as well.

Although small and midsize contactors have to create their own safety systems and procedures, this is no invitation to cut corners. With smaller jobs, the excuse that OSHA is less likely to show up on a jobsite can be a barrier to putting the right precautions in place. Too often, worker safety ends up taking a backseat to getting the job done.

Fortunately, small and midsized businesses do not need to choose between worker safety and profits. Professional interpretation services at an affordable price allow for both.

Best Practices for Overcoming Language Barriers

Regardless of the size of your business, OSHA’s Spanish Outreach training courses are the gold standard when it comes to construction safety training. They offer 10-hour or 30-hour training courses. If you go this route, bring in professional interpretation services to help trainers communicate during these important trainings. Contractors may also want to consider going a step further, however. Effective communication requires daily vigilance. The following tips give you a place to start:

  • Choose the best English speaker among non-English speaking employees to serve as a translator for other workers.
  • Have someone translate in real-time if feasible.
  • Conduct daily and on-the-spot safety training in both English and Spanish.
  • Provide language classes in both English and Spanish.
  • Use pictograms and images to convey important safety information.
  • Encourage workers to get to know each other better.
  • Make it easy for works to report hazardous worksites without jeopardizing their jobs.

Implementing these recommended best practices, in addition to quarterly or yearly longer training programs, puts your company at the forefront of worker safety. For more recommendations for reducing occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the construction industry, see the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR).

Following the above best practices will make sure your bilingual workforce doesn’t find itself part of the above statistics. Take the next step by finding a language partner who can advise you about managing your bilingual workforce, as well as offer on demand professional interpretation services.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we select from the most highly qualified interpreters to meet our clients’ needs in any location worldwide. Whether you need professional interpretation services for a training next month or next week, we are ready to assign you the best interpreter to meet your needs. Call us today at (877) 421-5958 or email us at info@alphaomegatranslations.com to discuss your project.

The High Stakes of Misinterpreting Patients: Leave Medical Translation Services to the Professionals!

The necessity of hiring professional interpreters or translators, especially using medical translation services, is often overlooked. When we encounter clients who are considering using professional linguistic services for the first time, they often wonder if they “really” need to hire professionals. However, those with the most experience in the healthcare industry know medical translation services can save lives.

medical translation services

In a continually globalized world, language barriers affect our daily professional lives and interactions are more and more. Professional linguists help individuals get the services they need regardless of the language they speak. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the medical industry where unclear communication puts patients at risk. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of medical translation services and best practices to prevent injuries and save lives.

One Tragic Story

 Everyone knows that when patients cannot communicate sufficiently with medical staff, the stakes are high. Unfortunately, too many in the medical industry assume that they can rely on bilingual staff and family members to bridge any communication gaps.

There are several problems with this policy and the story of 18-year-old baseball player, Willie Ramirez, tragically illustrates the real consequences of failing to use professional medical translation services.

In 1980, Ramirez was transported to a South Florida hospital via ambulance and arrived in a coma. His family, whose first language was Spanish, used the word “intoxicado” when speaking to emergency personel. The word “intoxicado” in Spanish means something ingested. It can refer to food, a drug, poison, or anything else that could make a person sick when ingested.

The family thought that Ramirez had eaten something that caused his symptoms. But the interpreter translated “intoxicado” as “intoxicated.” So the doctor diagnosed him with a drug overdose. It wasn’t until days later that his healthcare team realized the problem was actually bleeding in his brain. But by then, Ramirez had suffered lasting damage. Had his family’s description been interpreted correctly, there’s a good chance doctors could have treated him more quickly and more accurately. Sadly, he ended up a quadriplegic.

This is simply one tragic story among too many. In medical situations, doctors and hospitals often turn to bilingual staff or family members for help with interpreting and this is problematic. Beyond the chance that important medical details will be misunderstood—which is certainly a major concern—imagine the trauma that a child, even an adult child, would experience having to interpret a parent’s cancer diagnosis. 

Benefits of Hiring Professional Linguists

 The obvious benefit of medical providers hiring professional linguists to provide medical translation services is better patient care. But there are additional benefits that may be overlooked, such as reducing the average length of hospital stays and lowering readmission rates.

One study showed that among patients with limited English proficiency, those who did not work with a professional language interpreter at the point of admission or both at admission and discharge, had an average increase in their length of stay of between .75 and 1.47 days. It also showed that patients receiving interpretation services were less likely than those who did not receive such services to be readmitted within 30 days.

In addition, professional medical translation services increase patient satisfaction, which leads to decreased hospital costs. While many medical providers site budgetary limitations as a reason they do not provide adequate language access services for their patients, they fail to consider the costs they bear because of unaddressed language barriers.

Another study showed that having a Spanish-speaking attending physician significantly increased Spanish-speaking patients’ satisfaction with their physician, overall hospital experience, and reduced ER visits, thereby reducing costs by $92 per Spanish-speaking patient over the study period.

Your language service provider (LSP) will provide two basic services: medical translation and medical interpreting.

  • Medical translators provide linguistic services for written text (e.g., hospital record translation, translating instructions for taking medications, translating health information, and translation for brochures).
  • Medical interpreters provide linguistic assistance for spoken communication (e.g., during patient-doctor visits).

Both of these medical translation services can save lives and result in better outcomes for patients. 

Best Practices for Choosing Medical Translation Services

When looking for the right language service provider, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind for best results:

  • Find translators and interpreters who are proficient in both the source and target languages.
  • Make sure that translation professionals have subject matter expertise as well as linguistic expertise. This ensures that they are familiar with specific terminology, requirements, and the writing style of the industry.
  • Make sure that any written documents go through a thorough quality assurance process, so that there are no mistakes.
  • Don’t cut corners. If your patient population has a need for translation in several pairs of languages, you aren’t likely to get away with hiring one professional.
  • Look for language service providers that can provide experts in multiple languages and medical specialties.

Medical translation services and medical interpretation services are more than ancillary benefits. They are necessary services for healthcare providers. Even small communication mistakes cost much more than money. They cost lives. Make sure you are doing all you can to ensure the safety and quality of life of your patients.

Contact Alpha Omega Translations and let’s discuss your need for medical translation services. We’ll walk you through the process and make sure your bases are covered. Or if you’re ready to get started on your project, get your free quote today!

Alpha Omega Translations—A Translation Company with a Greater Purpose

Throughout our 20 years of service in the language translation and localization industry, our business has changed. From our humble beginnings with just a few translators mostly interpreting over the phone, we have expanded to the full service language translation and localization partner you know today.

language translation and localization

But, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The core of our business has remained solid, even through the biggest changes. Our mission is to be the bridge between languages and cultures and to connect people around the globe. We believe that by removing the barriers that keep us from understanding one another, we can forge new partnerships that are the real keys to success.

Our vision is evident in our business practices. We are linguists and industry experts first. Even while we support businesses in their goals to increase revenue by selling globally, we also look for ways to increase cultural awareness, tell the stories that celebrate human diversity, and give back to the community.

Language translation and Localization with Purpose

Here are some of our most notable language translation and localization projects with a larger purpose:

1. Contributions to Global Health Initiatives

Over the past 15 years, we have provided medical translation services for global health stakeholders, international health organizations, NGO’s, hospitals, surgical device manufacturers, medical research institutions, and clinical diagnostic firms. In addition, we have we have assisted numerous Global Health organizations working to control diseases like HIV and AIDS around the world.

One of our proudest contributions has been providing language translation and localization services to organizations involved with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative Against HIV/AIDS.

Background: In July of 2008, Congress signed into law the H.R. 5501 – the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act. This act was a continuation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR), launched in 2003. Offering millions of dollars in funding, PEPFAR was the largest commitment signed onto by any nation in the world for the treatment, prevention, and care of millions nationally and globally.

National and global organizations work under the PEPFAR initiative to prevent the spread of this disease, raise social awareness, and help define health care plans and disease treatment of patients in Third-World countries. Alpha Omega Translations provides medical document translation interpretation, desktop publishing services, audio/visual translation, and transcription to support those organizations involved in the PEPFAR Initiative.

Fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the globe, especially in the Third-World, requires effective and accurate communications across several different languages and cultures. The PEPFAR Initiative provides support for careful planning and integration of health care systems into pre-existing national and local ones. These founding organizations rely on Alpha Omega Translations to convey their message and health care plans to Latin American and African nations through a multitude of languages and dialects. Our experts are up for the challenge and love to do good work around the world!

2. Our Partnership with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP)

Not only do we serve global health organizations, we also serve businesses based right here in the DC Metro area through VEDP’s VALET (Virginia Leaders in Export Trade) program. The objective of the program is to assist both new and experienced exporters in entering new international markets. Each year, 25 local companies are chosen to participate in this very selective, 2-year business accelerator program.

Alpha Omega Translations has had a long-standing partnership with VEDP providing language translation and localization services, multilingual web development, content editing, social media integration, and backend development in all major languages. In the business world, connecting with broader audiences and forming relationships with overseas partners means not only an increase in a company’s bottom line. It also means increasing awareness about human experiences in other cultures and geographic locations.

Running an international business is more challenging than running a business based solely in the US or any single country. Without strong organizations, like VEDP, leading the charge, many businesses would ignore the opportunities made available by expanding globally. At AOT, we see enormous potential for companies ready to make this big move and we are excited about helping to make the process easier. With our experience, we have tons of advice to offer beyond standard translation projects. We can help make sure you’re ready to take your company international.

3. Preserving Endangered Languages

Last, but certainly not least, is probably our favorite opportunity to give back to the global community. Our love for culture and diversity means that we have a passion for saving endangered languages. When a language disappears—and linguists expect at least 50% of the world’s 2,000 languages to disappear by the end of this century—we lose an important piece of history. If we don’t all work together to preserve these artifacts of history, we risk losing touch with clues about who we are and how we can better relate to one another.

What can we do?

Linguists and researchers are working with communities that want to preserve or revive their endangered languages. The technology exists to help save these pieces of history through video and audio recordings, plus creating written records in both formal and informal settings.

At Alpha Omega Translations, we strongly support the preservation of disappearing languages. Last summer, our CEO traveled with a BBC reporter to interview the last speakers of the whistled language of Antia, a village on Evia, an island off the coast of mainland Greece. The story and our report have been featured in the media around the world.

Since the original publication, they were picked up by the press in Greece:

This story has also been featured on Sorosoro.com, which is a collaboration of researchers, linguists, and anthropologists interested in doing their part to preserve endangered languages around the world. Sorosoro sends scientists and technical experts around the world to document rare languages.

Here are the links to the collection of articles:

Seeing this kind of interest really makes us hopeful that we are making a difference. We love the language translation and localization work we do and of course, we love to satisfy our clients and their end users. But the above passion projects are rewarding in their own right. We want to remind the world that there is a human face behind every business.

If you want to be a part of the Alpha Omega Translations community, contact us today. At AOT, we believe every business, every brand, and every individual has a story worth sharing. Let us help you express yours with cultural competence and linguistic expertise!

Olympic Translation Issues: How to Prepare for Big Events and Lessons Learned

With a record-breaking 2,925 athletes from 92 counties set to compete and millions of spectators flocking to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, it’s clear that this will be one of the biggest sporting events in history. Of course, with so many people from hundreds of different nations gathering in one place, there are bound to be some Olympic translation issues.

Olympic translation issues

Let’s take a close look at how the International Olympics Committee (IOC) prepares for such a huge event and the lessons we can learn from what they have done.

Translation Preparations Prior to the Olympic Games

 First, South Korea has been reminding everyone that the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are being held in Pyeongchang (not Pyongyang). Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea. You can imagine the travel headaches and Olympic translation issues such confusion couldcause. So, the official name of the city has been changed to PyeongChang to make it clearer.

Translation remains a top concern for the IOC. South Korea sought out thousands of volunteers with language skills to act as interpreters and translators for athletes, delegates, and the press. The exact number of translators is unknown, but as a comparison, for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, over 1,000 interpreters were deployed.

This year, an official translation app is available for local businesses, athletes, and sports officials. Making this available should minimize Olympic translation issues, at least somewhat. Developed by a local software company, “Genie Talk” works on Apple and Android and can translate Korean, Japanese, English, Chinese, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Arabic.

Looking for some quick Korean lessons to get ready for the games? Check out football great Park Ji Sung’s quick phrases on CNN.com.

The Official Languages of the Olympics 

The Olympic games always have two or three official languages depending on where the games are held. Traditionally, the first two are English and French. The third language is the official language of the host country. This year, the third official language is Korean.

The choice of official languages is all about whom the IOC expects to watch the games, not the most popular languages spoken everywhere. For example, although Korean is spoken in both South and North Korea and by an estimated 80 million people around the world, it’s only the 17th most common native language.

In addition, much of the branding for the 2018 Games was inspired by the Korean alphabet. The emblem of the games, for instance, is a stylized version of the hangul letters ㅍ (p) and ㅊ (ch), for the initial sounds in “PyeongChang.”

Olympics translation issues

Linguistic fun fact: Although classified as a language isolate, many theories have been proposed to explain the origin of Korean. The most prominent theory links Korean to the Altaic languages of central Asia, which includes Turkish, Mongolian, and the Tungusic languages of Siberia. Others argue for the inclusion of Korean with the Dravidian languages of southern India. Unsurprisingly, Korean shares linguistic features with Japanese and Chinese.

Dealing with Social Media

Since the Winter Olympics is such a huge event, organizers have to make sure spectators from around the world can access the competition on their preferred platform in their preferred language without any Olympic translation issues. Two years ago by the end of the Sochi Games, there were over 150 million Tweets and 116 million Facebook status updates about the Olympics in different languages.

Social media may not be the first thing you think of when you think about translation for a huge event like the Winter Olympics, but actually many fans around the globe have nowhere else to connect with their favorite Olympic teams and athletes besides social media. The Olympic Channel, which broadcasts news about the Olympic Games has social media accounts is English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. Each account is tailored to the individual users based on their primary language.

So, social media is actually an important tool for making the Olympic Winter Games accessible to everyone. And avoiding Olympic translation issues in social media is an important focus for the IOC.

Learning from Past Olympic Translation Issues

 Translation mishaps during the 2012 Olympics in London were some of the most notable to date. The biggest problems were with Arabic. Many companies relied on machine translation and asked vendors to swap fonts at the last minute. This turned out to be a huge mistake because the unvetted fonts made many statements impossible to understand.

Another notable example included signs at the official shopping center—yes, the Olympic Games even have an official mall. The signs were meant to say “Welcome to London” in Arabic. There were only two small problems: the words were written backwards and spaces between the letters made the signs incomprehensible.

Of course, machine translation has seen dramatic improvement to the algorithms making translation software more accurate today than back in 2012. Still, these Olympic translation issues are a lesson in what to expect when companies try to take translation short cuts.

While you almost certainly aren’t hosting an international event as large the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, you never want to sacrifice quality for speed. At the least, we recommend using a language service provider to edit any machine translations. As a business, you are nothing without your reputation. And if you are building a reputation as an international business, translation mishaps will quickly destroy any momentum you have built.

Looking Forward to PyeongChang

At Alpha Omega Translations, we are looking forward to the Opening Ceremony and all of the Winter Olympic fun happening over the next couple of weeks. Of course, we’ll also be keeping an eye out for any language translation wins (or fails). We simply can’t help ourselves!

Like the IOC, you, need a winning strategy for building relationships with international customers and organizations around the world. We’ve been working with clients like you for over 20 years now. Over the years we’ve developed custom solutions to help our clients power past their competitors, just like our amazing Olympic athletes. For more information about our expertise, visit our media and marketing translation page. Or contact us to talk about specific needs.