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Culturally Appropriate Translation

Culturally Appropriate Translation

translation_getting_it_rightThe Language Exchange provides culturally appropriate translation for clients.  It is important to understand what this means if you are in the process of choosing a company for your translations.

Conceptual Equivalence

Do people attach the same meanings to terms and concepts?  Moderate vs. intense activity level, for example, may mean different things to different groups.

Do you need help determining cultural equivalence of terms, phrases and concepts?  Cultural norms, beliefs, values and expectations are not the same for different populations; particularly in regards to health care, law and family relations.  One way to help determine equivalence is to ask  The Language Exchange Project Manager working with you to have a “back translation” done (yes, there is a charge for it from the linguists doing it). Equivalence can be determined after back-translating the items and pilot testing them with members of the target population, and then comparing their opinions with the intent of your text.  Conceptual Equivalence is an important aspect of creating a culturally appropriate translation.

Linguistic Equivalence

Do the words and grammar have similar meanings across different cultures and languages?  Professional translators are trained and certified to translate the MEANING OF SEGMENTS, not the words.

Our culturally appropriate translation procedures establish that the items of the original and new renditions have similar meanings. Native speakers of the target language and regional cultural group compare a translation, along with a native English speaker for translations to and from English, several times before your finished translation is delivered to you.

Steps for Translation

Culturally Appropriate TranslationTranslate all materials from the original English version. In this culturally appropriate translation process, it is recommended that writers of material, or translators, consider changing words to get across conceptual and linguistic equivalence. Some words may need to be changed to match words with a similar concept in the second language (e.g., “vigorous” may not be familiar in a given culture, but the term, “very hard” may be understood). For all items, make sure the underlying concept is retained in translations. Translation into the second language should occur with at least two independent translators to improve cultural appropriateness and smooth wording.

Ask the translators to make the concepts understandable by people in the target population when you submit your text. There is a charge for this expertise, and it’s worth it, in every case. In countries where there are multiple dialects of the same language, it may be necessary to have translators who speak the different dialects translate the survey and agree on the best translation for use in the study.

The translated material is reviewed, through The Language Exchange by bilingual  people who are similar to the target population. Their job is to ensure that the translation will be acceptable to a majority of monolingual people whom you serve.

For conceptual and cultural equivalence, it is recommended that two different translators translate the new version back into English (back translation). Remember: a back-translation does not need to reflect the original wording, but the original concepts that are culturally appropriate. You can request that translators reach a consensus regarding suggestions for alternate translation elements since there is always more than one way to translate a word or phrase.  If you do pilot testing, you can request review afterwards by a professional translator through our office.

If your hospital, clinic or office would like to assess how culturally appropriate a translation is for the target population in that region, you might gather a group of people whom you serve who are monolingual in the target language and have a bilingual worker verify comprehension of the material you have had translated.

Below (from San Diego Prevention Resource Center) is a suggested way of doing that:

SCognitive Interviews:  It is recommended that the translated version be pilot tested using a cognitive interview approach involving … participants from the targeted community.  Different dialects of the same language used within that community, including low and middle education levels or social class should be represented.  Think-aloud or cognitive interviews with structured probes can identify items where responses might be affected by racial or cultural experience.  The responses participants provide will help researchers identify whether the population is interpreting the survey questions in the same way as the researcher.

For each item:

  1. Assess comprehension
    • Did you understand all of the words?
  2. Ask them to explain how they would answer the question
    • Talk out loud as you answer the question
    • Describe what you were thinking as you answer the question
  3. Assess clarity of question
    • What do you think is being asked?
    • What does this question mean to you?
    • Tell in your own words what you thought the question was asking.
  4. Determine whether they need additional help in answering the questions such as definitions, examples, etc.
    • What types of examples might help other people understand this question?
  5. Ask them to describe how they would have asked this question to a sister or a friend

culturally appropriate translationIf you were asking this question to a friend or family member, how would you ask it?

Culturally appropriate translations is something that is not available through language translation apps.  Get an online quote today for a culturally appropriate translation from The Language Exchange Inc!