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The Importance of Language Services during COVID-19

Language Translation Services Covid-19

Last updated on June 6th, 2023 at 11:01 am

Professional Translation Services Covid-19

The Importance of Language Translation Services to Manage COVID-19

COVID-19 brought the world as we know it to a screeching and abrupt halt. There is no aspect of life, personal or professional, that has not been affected by this and the translation services industry is no exception. However, far from becoming a service that is not needed, COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of interpretation and translation services to communicate and distribute vital information.

The type of content that gets translated has changed. We are not translating for the travel and leisure industry, and legal translation experienced a halt at the beginning of the Pandemic but is now slowly increasing since life, business, and legal needs continue to exist and a new normal has been set. What is clear is that vital and supporting information for Covid-19 became an important need since the beginning of the Pandemic and continues to exist, since new information is coming from the government, CDC, hospitals, and universities. On the same token, businesses and organizations of all kinds need to adapt to COVID-related regulations and share vital information to the community, their employees, and users in their language of preference.

Managing the virus and communicating updates to patients, medical professionals, politicians, businesses, and the general public necessitates accurate and timely translation services. The need to share consistent information is the reason these services, particularly translation of documents and remote interpretation services, are in such high demand.

New Terminology Needs Translation

With a new disease comes new terminology surrounding it, and this can present a challenge for translation, particularly medical and healthcare translations. New terms are challenging to translate because the way we speak is highly dependent on where we live and can vary within regions. New phrases must be created across all languages in a way that fits the culture and the situation. While some words may be globally accepted (or at least their English version), it is challenging for a new term to be accurately translated in a way that fits both the cultural and linguistic requirements of the target language.

Countries with more than one official language must face and resolve this challenge internally. In Canada, where the official languages are English and French, new terms in English must also be translated to their appropriate French counterpart. The government stepped up and created an English/French Glossary of new terms to facilitate and ease COVID communications for the country as a way to also ensure the accuracy and precision needed.

Below is a table with examples of English terms and phrases translated into French for Canada. These terms were extracted from the above-mention glossary where you can recognize terms that took a particular meaning during COVID-19.

English French
animal-to-human transmission  transmission de l’animal à l’humain
abnormal respiratory findings résultats respiratoires anormaux
border screening dépistage à la frontière
chain of transmission of infection chaîne de transmission de l’infection
close contact contact étroit
community spread transmission communautaire

Another organization, that during COVID created a multilingual terminology to facilitate and ensure the quality and consistency of the information for their members, is the EU (European Union). That covid-19 multilingual terminology can be found on the EU Open Data Portal.

That resource is available in Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Czech, Bulgarian, German, Danish, English, Greek, Finnish, Estonian, Irish, French, Hungarian, Croatian, Latvian, Italian, Maltese, Lithuanian, Polish, Dutch, Romanian, and Portuguese.

It not only translates the term but also gives content references to facilitate the translation. That database is a compilation of the different translation services of the EU institutions. As new terms are created, the database continues to be updated by EU terminologists.

Translation Services for Preventive Measures

The only way to truly stop the spread of COVID-19 is through public education on how the virus is contracted and spread. Preventative education facilitates understanding, and to do this a large number of communications must be pushed out to the general public.

Translation services are essential in these communications for people in all languages to understand what is needed of them. While some preventative measures are evergreen, information is constantly being updated and distributed as we learn more about this disease, its prevention, treatment, and vaccine. Accurate, fast translation services are needed to reach people across all languages.

Preparing for translation services from the start can cut down on time and money spent dealing with miscommunication errors. In such a stressful time of upheaval, preventing and minimizing miscommunication is imperative to retaining public trust and ensuring public health. Translation of websites, brochures, pamphlets, public health announcements, and more are required to spread the message as widely as possible.

Translating Patient Care Information

Medical translation services are always required in a hospital, but this need has increased ten-fold during the pandemic.

Providing compassionate care and accurate translation services are the norm, but in-person interpretation services became non-existent in 2020 due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission. But the rise in remote interpreters and remote interpretation services answered the need for patients to communicate with medical staff, and vice versa using telemedicine and supporting language services.

Professional language services create effective lines of communication that are crucial for successful patient treatments and increased survival rates by giving patient care information in the language of the patient.

Language services also provide the critical bridge service of helping doctors of patients communicate with the patient’s loved ones with the use of remote interpreters to aid communication, which can also improve the success of their treatments after discharge from the hospital.

Multilingual Vaccinations

Language services play a vital role in helping the population get vaccinated. In the United States, 1 in 5 residents speak a language other than English at home. Of this population, 41.5 million speak Spanish at home.

These populations intersect with those historically underserved by health care and those most at risk for contracting COVID-19. Providing accurate translation services is essential to further reduce these health disparities and keep underserved and at-risk populations safe.

Multilingual communication regarding COVID-19, including Spanish translations, help the federal, state, and local governments inform and care for individuals with language barriers. This is especially important for immigrant, refugee, and minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Language services in their 2 modalities, translation services, and interpretation services, also increase the efficiency of public services, promote community integration, and build trust in the community.

Without professional language services, the COVID Pandemic could not be managed where there is a diverse linguistic culture. Indeed, no matter the cause we can no longer simply communicate in one language and believe the “message will get out there”. Being provided necessary and often vital information is a human right, not a convenience. Think of the chaos that would ensue if there was no global understanding of public issues. And now think if there was no means to do this. Here at JR Language Translation Services, it is our goal to help the world communicate, and through better communication, manage issues better.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and has a BS in computer engineering. As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.