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translating COVID-19


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COVID-19 Resources to Support Accurate Translation

Every day, news broadcasts detail the impact that coronavirus is having on communities. Civic websites share reopening guidelines and specify the precautions residents must take to protect themselves. Businesses disseminate policies related to work-from-home protocols and employee resources pertinent to life during the pandemic. We all rely on these communications to keep us safe and informed. But for the millions of Americans who do not speak proficient English, language is a hurdle.

Translation to Support Employees, Clients, and the Community

According to the Census Bureau, 38% of the nation’s population (125.6 million residents) report speaking English “less than very well.” And some of the most linguistically diverse areas of the country—Seattle, New York, New Orleans—were the first to confront the most serious coronavirus outbreaks. Now, cases rise in Florida, Texas, and Arizona where between 20-35% of the populations speak a language other than English at home.

As the pandemic rages on, language is more important than ever. Non-English-speaking members of the community must be informed about public health guidelines. People need to understand social distancing protocols, and what to do if they get sick. It is also important for people in affected areas to remain informed about reopening guidelines, unemployment, housing rights, meal distribution, and other local resources. Without access to dependable information that they can understand, limited English proficient individuals are at risk of not understanding the steps they must take to protect themselves and others.

The pandemic also impacts the daily interactions businesses have with their employees, clients, and communities. Companies are reinventing their businesses, testing new processes, and rolling out the training needed to support remote workforces. For many, this means translating company-wide communications into multiple languages.

Translating COVID-19-related materials poses challenges. The pandemic introduced specific terms and phrases that must be translated effectively and used consistently.

COVID-19 Glossary in 18 Languages

SARS-CoV-2. Flattening the curve. Dry cough. Social distancing measures. Over the past months, we have all become overly familiar with the new coronavirus lexicon. But not all words translate easily into other languages. Organizations are faced with the challenge of communicating many new COVID-19-related concepts. This process entails establishing the most appropriate translations for specific terms and phrases, and using them consistently across materials.

At Eriksen, we want to make sure people have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe. Our team has developed a COVID-19 glossary of 150 terms in 18 languages and made it available for download. While this resource was initially developed to support the hardest-hit regions, our glossary is now accessible to anyone who can benefit.

Download the COVID-19 glossary in PDF format:

Arabic  |  Bengali  |  Chinese-Simplified  |  Chinese-Traditional  |  French  |  GreekHaitian Creole  |  Hebrew  |  Hindi  |  Italian  |  Japanese  |  Korean  |  Polish  |  Portuguese  |  Russian  |  Spanish  |  Urdu  |  Yiddish

Download the COVID-19 glossary here in Excel format (includes all languages).

A glossary is a valuable linguistic resource as it provides a central, searchable place to store translations. When a glossary is compiled, translations for specific phrases are established and approved up front. This system helps achieve accurate, consistent translations across materials, ultimately improving uniformity and impact in messaging.

Information and Resources

To accompany the glossary, listed below are websites that provide additional resources to help organizations keep informed and respond to the challenges they’re facing.

World Health Organization—global updates, public advice, and travel recommendations pertaining to coronavirus.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Resources for Businesses and Employers—information to help companies plan, prepare, and respond to coronavirus.

National Council of Nonprofits: Nonprofits and Coronavirus, COVID-19—resources to help nonprofits prepare for and respond to the pandemic.

COVID-19 Resource Center for Nonprofits—additional resources for nonprofits.

American Alliance of Museums: COVID-19 Resources & Information for the Museum Field—to help museums prepare internally and externally for outbreaks in their communities and navigate the disease’s broader impact.

Resources, information, and guidelines provided by the most impacted state departments of health:

New York  |  California  |  New Jersey  |  Illinois  |  Texas  |  Massachusetts  |  Florida  |  Pennsylvania  |  Michigan  |  Maryland  |  Georgia

Supporting Effective, Efficient Communications

The current pandemic, like other public health crises, introduces new terminology. We hope that by making this glossary available, we can facilitate the expeditious translation of coronavirus-related communications so that important information can reach the people who need it—fast.

As you develop the resources you need to support your employees, clients, and communities—we’re here to help.

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