COVID-19, Global Pandemics and the Role of Medical Translators and Interpreters

The 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic swept unabated throughout the world, taking down 2 percent of the world’s population which was approximately 50 million people. One thing that would have been different back in 1918 was the availability of skilled medical translators and interpreters. Translation of course isn’t a new discipline but in 1918 the world was far less globalized. The key question is, whether the availability of skilled medical translators and interpreters has helped to lower the incidence of COVID-19.

The 1918 pandemic taught the world something and that was that some immediate action had to be taken to stop a similar outbreak from losing so many lives. It was organizations like the World Health Organisation that was founded from the necessity to have a common body to oversee health trouble spots around the world so measures could be taken to aid or eliminate the problem. As soon as an event of global significance rears its ugly head then world specialists are on to it as quickly as possible, partly to prevent global economic collapse when people are too sick to work. However, shared information has to be translated so all those experts know what their counterparts are doing in other countries. All relevant information must be fully and accurately translated so it can be shared by the relevant agencies in the global community.

There is always a possibility of more deadly global pandemics

The current COVID-19 pandemic reveals how fast an outbreak can spread throughout the world and it is helped along by air flight that is both potentially useful but also can prolong pandemics.

Many countries that are the most susceptible to the onslaught of a global pandemic speak more than one language like the United States. There is a high proportion of people who are linguistically deficient in English in the U.S. because they prefer to speak their native language like Spanish and are even employed in workplaces where the majority of the workers speak Spanish. Not many people have heard Donald Trump when addressing the nation speaking any other language except English. When he is giving out his latest guidelines for attacking COVID-19, every US citizen has to know about it otherwise they could be breaking the law if laws enacted are broken due to a language misunderstanding.

Global medical translation and medical interpreting

Medical translation and medical interpreting have become key instruments in the scientific, academic, and medical research that quickly started throughout the world following the global spread of COVID-19. In key areas like the medical industry, human translators are the only ones fully qualified to do a good job. Some countries or health care providers think it is okay to use machine translations because it is easy and fast to get results. However, even when presented with a less complex text the machine translation only gives a literal translation. It fails to capture the nuances or subtle meanings that are so easy for a human translator to translate.

When global pandemics are spreading a disease quickly around the world translation services are the key component to enable an integrated global response. Whether the current virus has found itself into meat processing plants, a hospital or care home if there are people involved who don’t speak English then the key to effective communication is through translations so that all can understand what’s going on.

The refugee crisis and a pandemic

Many refugees who pour into Germany may be able to speak neither English nor German making communication an impossible event. The host country has to quickly source translators and interpreters to keep the refugees informed

The role of translation services in a global crisis

Employing a professional translation service and skilled language interpreters is essential to enable a fast response in a global disaster. Economic disruption may be mitigated by distributing information concerning how to prevent and spread a virus so that people can continue to work and function as near to normal as possible. Even of more importance is getting information related to research, data, and analysis translated and then distributed to all relevant scientific, academic, and medical communities throughout the world.

Why is Proofreading so Important After the Translation Process?

In recent years the rise in translation services has provided great assistance to companies who wish to cross borders to find new markets. This has basically been achieved because of the ability of translators to localize content when translating a page. This skill means that companies can depend on a translated text that is highly relevant to their targeted markets and can be provided in many different languages. However, this new service doesn’t mean proofreading a translation is no longer required.

The importance of proofreading a translation

Translation proofreading is typically the last stage of the translation process. It follows the editing process. As soon as the translation has been completed and an editor has made his/her input, a proofreader will painstakingly sieve through the text and spot and correct any mistakes. This is not a skill that has been automated yet. It totally depends on human intervention.
So far, machine translation tools may help to create fast turnarounds for translations but they haven’t been inputted with the skills to be completely accurate, so a human proofreader is given the task of perfecting the translation. If simple grammatical mistakes are not found and corrected, the complete meaning of that part of the translated text may have been changed. This means the proofreading must be done by a skilled translator who knows both languages well. Translation companies tend to hire separate proofreading teams who perform several reviews of every translated document.

Your translated content is your business message

A well-written article that has been accurately translated and has no errors creates a good impact and a greater chance of attracting more customers. However, in contrast, a badly written text that hasn’t been proofread well and is loaded down with silly mistakes is more likely to result in criticism and is far less likely to draw in customers. When this happens both proofreaders and editors are really to blame, as they are equally responsible for the quality of the translated text. The proofreader is the last in line before the translated text finds its way back to the client.

Proofreading is not just spell checking

The proofreader decides whether a translated document is poorly presented or is an effective and mistake-free document. Some businesses think they can reduce the costs of translating by doing their own proofreading by using free online automatic spell check tools. Because proofreading is checking grammar as well, just using an automated spell checker won’t do as it won’t catch grammar errors that bring the document together in a single, flowing text. In reality, a proofread document would have many mistakes if proofreading is done just by using some automated spell check tools.

The sorts of questions a proofreader answers when performing a proofread are:

  • is the theme of the text put across clearly?
  • are the best words being used?
  • are the layout and word use consistent?
  • is the paragraphing done correctly?
  • are the sentences far too long?
  • is the page numbering correct?
  • do individual headings represent the content of the paragraph?

The end result of any proofread of a translated document is that the original document and its translated counterpart put across the same meaning which will have the same effect on the respective customers.

How to Improve Your Spanish

Here are some simple tips for improving your Spanish. The more Spanish you learn, the less you need to rely on Spanish translation services!

● Speak Spanish as often as you are able.

● When you are alone and want to express yourself out loud, speak in Spanish.

● Trying to think in Spanish helps to learn the language.

● Try to practice Spanish if you know someone you see often speaks the language.

When in a Spanish speaking country, practise when you can. There is no better way of impressing the locals than by communicating with them in their own language. You will become fluent far faster than speaking your own language when in a Spanish speaking country.

If you are keen to improve your Spanish quickly you must head as often as you can to a place that speaks Spanish. That’s the best way to learn Spanish through reading, speaking and listening all at the same time. Also, engaging with the culture of the Spanish speaking country you have chosen to visit has a great influence the speed in which you will become more fluent in Spanish.

Listening is a Key to Language Learning

Most of the time, people usually find reading and speaking to be far easier while it can be a challenge to concentrate on listening. It’s not too difficult to improve listening skills as it’s just the question of listening to what people are saying. It will give you the chance to differentiate between different accents that are being used. When you start to attain a reasonable level in Spanish, you’ll start to be able to differentiate between the different types of accents and dialects.

Taking your Knowledge a Step Further

If your Spanish has reached the advanced stage, remember that there are exciting possibilities for jobs in Spanish translation services. There are more native Spanish speakers than there are English speakers, even if Spanish is not quite such an international language. Spanish is not such an important language in Australia as it is in Europe and North America, but there is still strong demand for Spanish NAATI translators.

Become a Professional Translator in 5 Easy Steps

It is quite surprising how many people really believe that fluency in a language is the main prerequisite for being a professional translator. Bilingualism is no doubt a great asset but there is more to a career as a professional translator than bilingualism.

1 Get a Translation Certificate

Getting certified proves that you have reached the required standard to be a translator. There are many universities who offer both degrees and programmes for certification as a qualified translator. The best certification in Australia is NAATI accreditation because it offers the accredited translator the opportunity to work on government translation projects.

2 Take a Language Test

You may be surprised to know that proving your competency in your second language is both important to clients seeking translation services and companies seeking competent translators. There are many tests available that can test your ability in your second language and will add weight to your resume.

3 Build Up Experience

Gaining experience is next on the agenda. Everyone has to start somewhere. To be a good NAATI translator the more hands on experience you get the better. If you are currently a student, offer your services as a translator in your language pair, even if you don’t ask for too much pay in the first place. You can use your translated examples to add to your portfolio which you can present as evidence of your competence to any potential clients.

4 Market Your Skills

Once you have accumulated experience you are now ready to fast track these new skills by marketing yourself to those organisations that commonly seek translators in the course of their daily work. This includes hospitals, police stations, government organisations and translation providers. The best place to showcase your translation achievements is through your own website where you can add work samples, testimonials from satisfied clients and your translation rates.

5 Learning Never Stops

You may have started your professional translation services career translating any document that comes along and someone is prepared to pay for translating it. There is a time when you may feel you are not getting just compensation for your efforts. You can now start to specialize by concentrating on the more lucrative translation areas such as legal or medical translations. You can also spend some time updating your knowledge on such tools as translation memory software. There is some more learning involved, especially in relation to glossaries and terminology.

Quality of a Rushed Translation Can Improve Over Time

Time constraints and rushed jobs are not normally the sorts of things that professional translation services handle well. No one who has gained the qualifications to do a NAATI translation should rush a job because quality is more important than quantity. Being put under too much pressure will not bring the most favourable results.

However, translators like in many industries do of course have to match deadlines but how do they succeed in rushing a translation job but still maintain quality?

Translators who work for translation services in Sydney tell their clients that if they are asked to do a job too quickly the results would not be good enough to circulate to others or be printed or published. They are basically the equivalent of drafts that are incomplete. All good, accurate translations go through the draft stage and before they get as far as the publication phase will have been proofread and checked several times before being released to the client.

When asked to match a deadline that would label the job as a rushed one it is necessary for the translator to be completely free of any distractions. As many translators work from home on a freelance basis complete privacy has to be assured so that the translation is completed to an acceptable standard.

Even though the job has been done in a rush the translator will need to do at least very basic proofreading so that there are no distractive spelling or grammar errors. The pattern of the translated text has to follow more or less the same pattern as the original text so that means all subheadings and bulleted points need to be checked for consistency before releasing the rushed translation back to the client.

Translators are at some time or another asked to do a rushed translation and there is no doubt that the stress levels can increase but a successful job can lead to further work especially if some extra time and effort is put into a quality outcome.

A NAATI translation is expected to be of high quality, so this puts more pressure on a translator with this qualification to prove that a rushed translation of the right quality can be performed.

Going Global with Translation Services

The demand for good quality translators and interpreters has never been greater than today and there is no indication that this is going to go into decline. This is most noticeable in the field of commerce, but alongside the ongoing trend towards globalised business, there is the network of communication channels set up between governments and government agencies as well as international travel, both of which are growing just as fast.

Just think about anything you use these days and how it got to you. A morning cup of coffee could have started its journey in Brazil, Colombia, Kenya or Papua New Guinea. It probably came packaged in an airtight bag made locally, and served with milk from Denmark or New Zealand in a cup made in China. You then go to work in a car made in Japan, Korea, Germany, Sweden or the U.S. powered by petrol or diesel refined in Curacao and extracted in Venezuela or Saudi Arabia.

An important international meeting of government representatives has just taken place in Paris with people present from 170 different nations speaking more than 100 different languages. The health of the world’s climate depends on their effective communication between each other.

A medical device is designed in the U.S., manufactured in China and distributed world-wide with appropriate instructions.

For all of these examples, chosen at random, translators and interpreters ply their trade, translating manuals and documents, conservations and agreements. Billions of dollars in world-wide trade depend on their effectiveness in maintaining communication between the world’s 6,000 plus different language groups.

Globe-trotting travellers may be able to get away with one or other of the freely available computer aided translators, which can certainly help to smooth their way as they look for accommodation, find the right bus or train and local places of interest to visit but for most effective communication across language borders, professional document translation services are required. There are too many examples where poor translation and interpretation has led to costly mistakes and serious misunderstanding between different individuals or nations.

In many countries government agencies demand that certified translation services are used, for example for visa, employment and citizenship applications. This sort of translation work is the ‘bread and butter’ of document translation services, but there are many other specialised translation niches such as legal translation, medical translation, business document translation website and marketing translation and so on.