Speaking the Language of International Development

February 7, 2016 |

Translating Words into Action

International DecelopmentLanguage is a crucial consideration in international development. In communities around the world, language diversity is common, and bilingualism of individuals is vital to business and social life. Language diversity raises issues in education that must be addressed, because they underlie many other important social issues. For example, choices about the language in which children begin schooling and become literate are fundamental to ensuring equal educational opportunity. Education is central to reducing poverty and enabling social and economic development.

International sustainable development promotes a cross-disciplinary understanding of economics, law, sociology, political science, anthropology and language, in the context of sustainable or environmentally friendly positive social and economic change.

The terminology of international development is constantly evolving as new socioeconomic concepts emerge. In over 25 years of experience in translation for global development we have witnessed the appearance of a number of neologisms, either entirely new or established terms used with a different meaning in such organizations as USAID, the IDB, World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, etc.

Translating into dialects can be challenging due to cultural references and limited vocabulary in the scientific domain. For instance the Ilocano language’s lexical inadequacy is observed in the profession. Another major challenge in Ilocano translation stems from the fact that Ilocano is a predicate initial language. When a translator attempts to follow the syntax of the source language in order to maintain accuracy or fidelity, the resulting translation often lacks natural flow and cohesiveness, undermining transparency.

Likewise translating and interpreting for the Chuukese language is also challenging, especially due to major cultural differences between the islands and the mainland United States. The Chuukese language usually does not have its own words for legal, scientific or modern socio-economic terms. The Chuukese number system also poses one of the greatest challenges to an interpreter. The Chuukese language has a completely different numbering system for objects of different sizes and shapes: long objects, round objects, meats and certain vegetables, people, weapons, etc. The Chuukese dictionary lists two pages of such variants!

Translators need to work around these challenges to achieve a balance in accuracy, fidelity, transparency, equivalency, and cultural appropriateness of the translation.

 For an overview of our translation expertise, visit our medical and life science translation page.


Category: Business Translation

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