Monday, 23 December 2013

Nelson Mandela’s Memorial and the Need for Professional Interpreters

As the Nelson Mandela memorial has recently showcased, it’s imperative for individuals and organisations to utilise professional and competent interpreters before major events, for obvious reasons. To bungle up on such an important and globally publicized event like Mandela’ funeral is no laughing joke. Solemnity and soberness was the order of the day an required from all the stately participants and organisers of the late South Africa activist and leader’s funeral. See here

Nelson MandelaWhat obviously stood out from an otherwise well-orchestrated procession was the not-so-choice appointment of the event’s sign language interpreter. Thamsanqa Jantjie shot to worldwide fame (in the wrong light) by giving off fake sign language gestures during Mandela’s memorial. After the incident, the 34-year old actually claimed to have had a schizophrenic episode while gesturing mentioning how he “saw angels descending” on the Johannesburg Stadium during his performance.

A few days after the global mockery, Jantijie was admitted to a Johannesburg psychiatric hospital by his own wife Siziwe. What’s important to understand here is that it wasn’t Jantijie’s mental state during the event that was the main issue. Rather, the more glaring problem was the way the event organizers and government haphazardly went about their recruitment. Had they done their due diligence, then they would have found out that Jantijie actually had a history of mental problems and violent bouts in the past and was previously admitted to a mental institution for well over a year. Moreover, Jantijie has been implicated of past false impersonation and a string of serious crimes in the past, something a simple criminal record check would have highlighted.

Ironically enough, on the day of the his scheduled four-hour sign language performance, Jantijie was due to have a medical check-up. After getting the sudden request to interpret at Mandela’s memorial, his wife cancelled the appointment and notified the hospital to reschedule on another day. Clearly events like this do not leave a good impression on others. Especially considering how Mandela’s funeral was globally televised and had an impressive guest list of over 100 current and former heads of state and government. In fact, Jantijie’s bizarre act was performed only feet away from the American President Barack Obama and other esteemed guests.

The lesson of this story is to always do your homework before appointing interpreting and translations services. Clearly, the South African government got it wrong on this case and in consequence, has had to publicly admit their mistake and apologize to deaf people for any offence that Jantijie may have caused on its behalf. Apart from his troubled psychological state and lacking of the required competency, Jantijie was also a security risk in the presence of major world leaders and power brokers.
To avoid similar embarrassments (of course on a smaller scale), you need to make the right decisions and carefully do your due diligence. You should always seek out professional and reliable interpreting and translation services that have a solid track record and a dependable roster of translation staffs on standby.

Ideally, you should only look for those firms that are professionally certified, have quality accreditations, provide a wide range of interpreting and translation services (including sign language) and has a large number of translators and interpreters ready to serve. Look for companies like the UK’s Convocco Ltd to seek out the right interpreter for your needs. Companies like Convocco will guarantee the right appointment (they have a network of over 6000 sector-specific interpreters and translators fluent in over 250 languages – including British sign language) and take care of all the background checks and due diligence themselves to help build trust and maximize your business relationships.

By: Hayder Al-Ani Convocco Ltd Birmingham

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Selfie and Other Recent Word Additions

Selfie and Other Recent Word Additions

By: Hayder Al-Ani
Convocco Ltd

Not too long ago, the Cambridge Dictionary (owned by Cambridge University Press) made quite a splash in international papers when it decided to introduce a raft of new words into its 2013 web dictionary. Among the most controversial were the words “selfie,” “poshitis” and “phubbing.”

In the company’s own words, it defines selfie as “a photograph taken of yourself,often for the purposes of posting on a social-networking website.” Selfies, as they were, are indeed ubiquitous throughout many social media websites – whether you’re talking about Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest or any other network that vigorously uses photos.

Indeed it is simply a sign of the times, that is, just how pervasive and influential social media is in our lives. Not surprisingly, one glaring statistic shows how globally,1 in 6 people have a Facebook account and how over 300 million people around the world have access to Twitter. This obviously has a direct impact on the waytranslation and interpretation of languages takes place (including face to face, video and telephone interpreting).

Cambridge University Press argues that in order to be considered for induction, a word must be used consistently and frequently across various mediums. The word selfie has actually witnessed a 17,000 percent increase in usage from 2012 – enough reason for the publisher to adopt it into the mainstream. The origins of the word are unclear, however Cambridge News themselves claim that it can traced back to 2002 when the word first appeared on an Australian online forum. The author of the self-picture was alleged to have uploaded the picture of his injured face suffered after a drunken bout. He apologetically wrote “Sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.” Only in 2004 did the word gain circulation through social media but it’s not until mainstream media referred to the word on a wider scale for its usage to become household.

Other recent buzzwords accepted by Cambridge include poshitis – described as “the pain caused by carrying large bags fashionably in the crook of your arm”; quidditching, defined as “the internet craze brought about by the Harry Potter game”; and phubbing, cutely explained as “the act of snubbing someone in a social setting looking at your phone.”

To follow suit, the Oxford online dictionary too has added the word selfie onto its esteemed depository (however the print version has yet to be so forthcoming). It was also recently announced that selfie was Oxford’s international word of the year last month (for 2012). The Editorial Director of Oxford Dictionaries, Judy Pearsall, stated that using the company’s language research program, Oxford is able to collect some 150 million words of current English words in usage monthly. Based on this data, Pearsall and her team can identify an astoundingly upward trend in usage for selfie in 2013 – thereby cementing its place for Oxford’s word of the year. Among the other recent additions to Oxford’s online dictionary includes ‘bitcoin’ (a form of hot digital currency method with sophisticated and ambiguous encryption), ‘twerking’ (a form of raunchy, sexually provocative dance) and ‘phablet’ (a smartphone with a large screen – that is, a crossover between a smartphone and a tablet). Over the years hundreds of new words have been added to Oxford’s dictionary – many of which are technology-inspired. Even more controversial and less popular words to make the cut include ‘hackerspace’ (a gathering for data enthusiasts), ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device), ‘srsly’ (seriously) and ‘apols’ (apologies).

Katherine Connor Martin of Oxford Dictionaries Online mentions how some words have been around for years but have only recently gained popularity. She cites the word ‘twerk’ which is actually around 20 years old and was originally coined by the American hip-hop scene but only recently thrust into popularity (pun intended) when Miley Cyrus performed it for all to see during this year’s MTV Video Music Awards alongside Robin Thicke.

The common theme around many of these new additions on Cambridge and Oxford over the years is technology and social media. Each year, approximately 1.8 billion new words are detected of which only around 1,000 are inducted into the database. With the pace of new word additions having accelerated over the years, some purists and traditionalists have taken offence feeling left out and antiquated at the inundation of new, more tech-savvy words.

What’s important to understand is, the words we speak and more specifically, the manner by which we communicate them, are a reflection of the time. The future will require translation and interpreting companies like Convocco Ltd. among other big players to catch up and service clients keeping in mind changing technology and social trends. Though technology is ultimately more beneficial to us than harmful,we must ensure to maintain that the integrity of languages and basic structure of languages remains intact.

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Internet’s Harmful Effect on Languages

By: Hayder Al-Ani

Everyone knows just how wonderful the internet is. It is a treasure trove of information of all shapes and sizes. Its virtually unlimited potential can be used potentially both for a great deal of good or harm.

However, one of the most harmful effects of the internet – apart from the usual complaints against inappropriate content, exploitation and abuse, internet bullying, over-usage, advertisements and spam among others – is the negative effect it is having on languages.

Languages are in essence, systems of communication (whether verbal or nonverbal). They constitute the basic mechanism by which humans (and other organisms too) communicate and exchange information with one another. It takes years if not centuries for languages to develop and blossom into distinct and discernible means of expression. Today, the most popular languages across the globe are English, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish and Arabic.

Through the widespread dissemination of the internet, different nations and their associated cultures and languages have spread their influences across their physical borders. No longer are once parochial languages like Flemish or Swahili reserved to specific geographical focal points but are now instead,
available globally through various sources for all to see. Recent free web technologies like Google Translate among others have made it even easier for the interpreting of one language to another and the translation of obscure languages – thereby bridging communication gaps. Image source:

Paid software, like Convocco’s interpreting and translation (including its face to face, telephone and video interpreting) service has also contributed to improving linguistic understanding both in the UK and abroad. In spite of the greater reach and scope of spreading and popularizing languages, not all languages are benefiting from the phenomena. According to a recent study by Norwegian linguist Andras Kornai, less than 5 percent of world languages are in use online – resulting in the other 95 percent of global languages being left out. This does not bode well for the shelved majority as according to the Alliance for Linguistic

Diversity, already over 40 percent of the world’s languages are endangered. Even countries with multiple official languages or language dialects can witness such glaring inequities. Kornai cited the sweeping differences in the use of Norway’s two official languages – being Bokmal and Nynorsk – as a case study. Though both receive equal support in government and business, Bokmal is immensely more popular online for its associations with Norway’s advertising, music, fashion and entertainment.

In a different light, major languages too, are susceptible to the harmful effects the internet has on languages. Owing to the universal use of the language across the World Wide Web, no language is more vulnerable to the harmful effects internet than English. Over the years, various groups and subcultures have devised their own slang and terminologies whether they were computer programmers, hackers, internet gamers, porn viewers, or more recently, teenage chatters (the so-called “netizens”) on instant messaging services and social networks and their insatiable use of shorthand abbreviations, symbols and emotions.Networks like Facebook and Twitter have only compounded the situation. No longer are children today content with spelling out and articulating their emotions online. Rather, most would prefer to abbreviate what they want to say – using such conveniences like LOL (laugh out loud), ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing),

BTW (by the way), IDK (I don’t know), BRB (be right back), G2G (got to go) among others. Recent technologies like the meme (an image with user-generated wording) have further worsened the situation. Rather than using popular slang words and acronyms, certain expressions have gained a lot of traction through many social networking sites like ‘you only live once (YOLO),’ ‘faith in humanity restored,’ ‘epic fail,’ ‘Photoshop level 9000,’ etc. The worst problem of them all seems to be deliberately misspelling words and using bad grammar when chatting with others, for instance using “welcs” for welcome, “selfie” for self-picture or putting everything in lowercase including proper nouns and names like I, John, Smith, Washington, etc. in an effort to “fit in” and be more accepted and “cool.”

A similar, but equally starting fact is how modern internet users prefer seeing graphics and pictures over reading letters and words. With the barrage of content found online, people nowadays resort to looking at images online to “understand.” Hence the pervasive use of emoticons (i.e. smiley faces) and infographics in place of traditional text and articles.

Indeed the continuing saturation of the internet presents both benefits and challenges. Among the most pressing is how it is negatively affecting global languages – whether it’s shoving them into oblivion or eroding the very integrity and soundness of the language. The future of the translation and interpretation of languages will be a challenging one. In this respect, as human beings, we must do whatever it takes to preserve all languages and ensure their continuance for future generations to practice and articulate.

By Hayder Al-Ani
Convocco Ltd

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Businesses Attracting More International Clients through Website Translations!

Recently, a number of law practices in the many English-speaking countries have taken bold new initiatives to attract more international business to their firms. Initially it began with bilingual and multilingual training for practicing lawyers. But now, a large number of law firms and other professional services like accountants, consultants and tax specialists too are finding it rewarding to translate their websites into multiple languages and implement “localisation” practices.

The Connecticut Law Tribune recently carried an opinion piece mentioning how localising a company’s content increases the firm’s visibility and profit potential all while solidifying relationships with international clients. Bloomberg Business Week also ran a similar piece where Susan Peters, Director of a software company in Silicon Valley, stated how by translating the essential pages and components of a company’s website, companies were able to better inform and engage with foreign visitors. The creative commercial law agency Isaac Parker describes how, by simply translating your firm’s website into Chinese or Spanish (two of the fastest growing online languages), your online reach jumps from 27% to as much as 60% of all internet users.


Hayder Al-Ani, CEO of Convocco Ltd Birmingham (one of the UK’s leading interpretation and translation companies) mentions how localisation extends far beyond simple website translation to include considering alterations to marketing and communicating the firm’s products and services. An understanding of foreign visitors’ cultures, practices and preferences must also be accounted for. That’s why companies like his provides integrated localisation services to better help and support companies in reaching out to international customers to expand their client base and business performance.

About: Convocco offers a full range of language services including interpreting (face to face, telephone and via video-conference), translation, localisation, consulting, bespoke services as well as its cutting-edge WebInterpreter tool. With more than 6,000 highly skilled interpreters and translators across 250 different languages, Convocco is committed to mending any language barriers that clients may face and lives up to its credo of “We speak your language.”

Contact: Convocco Relations: Phone (toll-
free): +44 (0) 800 849 5060

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Study Reveals Shortfall of Language Competency in the UK

Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate with one another.

They serve to transfer information, describe our reality and to convey our emotions succinctly and in a systematic manner. In the United Kingdom, we have a rich tradition of fostering and promoting our internal languages. As the home and global hub of the English language, the UK is regarded as the standard bearer when it comes to promoting the English language and all that it represents. Apart from the universal use of English, other spoken languages across the UK include Gaelic and Welsh.

When it comes to Britons learning and expressing themselves in other languages and cultures however, the situation is quite the opposite. Recently a study undertaken by the British Council (herein BC) has revealed some starting statistics. Out of the 10 major languages it has identified as important for the country’s future, more than three-quarters of the UK public is not competent enough to hold conversations in such languages.

The YouGov poll undertaken by the BC found that out of 4000 people surveyed, 75% were unable to speak and articulate in languages deemed as crucial to the UK’s future economic standing. The 10 listed languages included (in order of importance):

Spanish, Arabic, French, Mandarin, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Turkish and Japanese. Another four were also under the report’s radar and described as potentially important being: Dutch, Indian languages, Korean and Polish.

John Worne, Director of Strategy for the British Council, mentions how the problem with the current predicament isn’t that the wrong languages are being taught at school, but rather “the UK needs more people to take up the opportunity to learn and, crucially, get using these languages – along with new ones like Arabic, Chinese and Japanese."

The study found that out of all the 10 listed languages, only French was spoken by a double-digit percentage (at 15%). The next most widely spoken languages included German (6%), Spanish (4%) and Italian (2%). Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin and Russian were spoken by around 1%; with Portuguese and Turkish spoken by less than 1% of the sample population.

The criteria for choosing the top 10 languages were on the basis of educational, economic, cultural and political indicators. They consider such variables like the current UK trade balance and relationship, the language needs of doing business, the government's future trade priorities and direction and emerging high-growth markets (of particular importance being the BRICS bloc).

The BC has urged the government and business community to work in tandem toward developing and nurturing an education policy more facilitating toward international languages. One of the salient recommendations suggested by the BC is to utilize and harness the diverse language and cultural skills of the UK’s diaspora and minority communities. Rather than trying to integrate them into a “melting pot,” society has to do more to embrace their unique identities and to foster diversity and communication. One key consequence of such developments is the increased need for professional translation and interpretation firms to work with minority communities and to promote their interests with others groups while residing in the UK.

Worne adds that "If we don't act to tackle this shortfall, we'll lose out both economically and culturally. Schools have their job to do, but it's also a problem of complacency, confidence and culture – which policy makers, businesses, parents and everyone else in the UK can help to fix. Languages aren't just an academic issue – they are a practical route to opportunity for the UK in business, culture and all our lives.

In an effort to minimize the widening language gap between the UK and other advanced countries, companies like Convocco Limited have stepped up to the plate in order to promote language diversity and understanding. With a national network of over 6000 interpreters and translators, Convocco works with companies and individuals to facilitate smooth interpretation and translation between people speaking different languages. Other similar companies have also followed suit and have taken their own initiatives to address the communication gap in the UK in the areas of education, business and politics.

By: Hayder Al-Ani

Monday, 30 September 2013

Back to Business

After a long hiatus, Convocco Ltd. will resume publishing insightful and relevant interpretation and translation related news and content on this blog as well as other mediums for your viewing pleasure. Please stay tuned!

Monday, 1 July 2013

TRANSLATION NEWS: EU Intellectual Property and Trade mark proposals

Source: EU trade mark proposals sound wrong, in any language

Article by James Nurten
''Some of the proposed changes in the European Comission's recently published trademark proposals are confusing practitioners and worrying brand owners. The changes concern which languages should be taken into account when considering absolute grounds for refusal. ''
Read the rest here.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Cracow Translation Days 2013 – Preliminary Programme Announced

Kontax - Cracow Translation Days 2013 - Frankfurt am Main - Germany -The preliminary programme of the Cracow Translation Days 2013 has been announced. The conference will feature talks and workshops by industry leaders such as Chris Durban, Marta Stelmaszak and Nick Rosenthal as well as an extensive social programme.
Both new developments and best practice will be covered by:Anne Diamantidis (Your LinkedIn profile: Dress your Shop Window to the World)Chris Durban (Keynote Address; Working the Room)Jean Nitzke (Post-Editing – Job Killer or New Opportunity?)Jerzy Czopik (Quality Assurance)John Moran (Machine Translation – A Waste of Time?)Katarzyna Slobodzian-Taylor (Promoting a Professional Image in the Online Realm)Nick Rosenthal (Customer Service: What We Can Learn from Other Sectors)Marian Dougan (Spreading the Language Love: Translators and Educational Outreach)Marta Stelmaszak (Blue Ocean Strategy – Can Translators Make Competition Irrelevant?)Ralf Lemster (Welcome Address)Sabine Dievenkorn (Translating a Religion)Siegfried Armbruster (Aligning the Internet)Stefan Gentz (Building High-Performance Teams – Make ‘em Click!)
Registration is now open. The conference fee (EUR 495 excluding VAT) includes conference attendance, accommodation, meals, a the trip to Wieliczka salt mine (including dinner) as well as a guided tour of Cracow.
The Cracow Translation Days are a non-profit conference. All proceeds go in equal shares to St Lazarus Hospice and the children's charity Rupert Mayer Foundation.
For more information, please visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter(@TranslationDays).
The Cracow Translation Days – an international non-profit conference for professional translators – will be held from 6–8 September 2013 in the Benedictine abbey of Tyniec, 13 km southwest of Cracow.

Organization Cracow Translation DaysLast name RuethFirst name LisaURL

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Cutting A&E use and health inequalities | Practice | Nursing Times

Source:  Cutting A&E use and health inequalities | Practice | Nursing Times

Many people are increasingly going to accident and emergency departments when they could visit a GP. One scheme aimed to improve education and cut attendances
  • Why patients choose A&E over GP practices
  • Steps taken to reduce A&E attendance
  • Evaluation of the A&E attendance-reduction programme

Annie Ford is diversity programme manager at MertonHealthcare; Debra de Silva is head of evaluation at The Evidence Centre; and Sima Haririan is general manager at Merton Healthcare.

Ford A et al (2013) Cutting A&E use and healthinequalities. Nursing Times; 109: 24, 14-16.
In south west London, nurses, community workers, GPs and others have worked together to develop a programme that supports migrant communities, resulting in a reduction in their use of accident and emergency services. The programme included setting up community education sessions, six-week courses, and bilingual advocacy and interpretation services. Its success relied heavily on the team getting to know local communities, working in partnership and making time to develop trust. The lessons learnt from establishing these services are discussed to help readers improve their equality and diversity practice.
  • This article has been double-blind peer reviewed
  • Figures and tables can be seen in the attached print-friendly PDF file of the complete article in the ‘Files’ section of this page
  1. People in the most deprived areas generally have the lowest life expectancy
  1. There are growing pressures on accident and emergency departments across the UK
  1. Health and social services are required by law to undertake equality and diversity assessments and implement diversity plans
  1. By choosing to attend A&E rather than go to a GP, individuals are missing out on vital preventive services and support
  1. Working in partnership with community groups and charities can help health professionals access hard-to-reach groups

Merton is a leafy borough in south west London, perhaps best known for housing Wimbledon. It may be surprising to learn that 27% of Merton’s population is from minority ethnic groups (Office for National Statistics, 2011). Like many areas, the population in Merton is increasing and getting older, while health and social care resources are limited and a large proportion of the health workforce is heading towards retirement (Merton Council, 2007). People from migrant communities are often not registered with a GP or tend to visit accident and emergency departments rather than using primary care.
Given resource and staffing constraints, it is not sustainable for whole groups of the population to bypass primary care. By not attending GP clinics, this group is also missing out on essential preventive services and support - often coping with progressively deteriorating conditions until they reach crisis point.
Throughout the UK, there is a strong link between deprivation and health inequalities, with the most deprived areas generally having the lowest life expectancy (Randhawa, 2007). These areas also tend to have a higher prevalence of smoking, obesity, unhealthy eating and risky drinking behaviour (Johnson, 2006). This is of particular significance in Merton, where it is not uncommon for a third of geographic wards to be made up mainly of those from minority ethnic populations, including people from eastern Europe and South East Asia.
We audited local data and found 43% of A&E attendance occurred on weekdays, in working hours. GP practices with the highest number of weekday A&E users were in areas of socioeconomic deprivation and high multi-ethnicity.
Aims of the programme
In 2010, we met with nurses, doctors, community groups and commissioners to address how to reduce the high rates of A&E use. We aimed to target migrant communities with education and support.
Government policies highlight the need to support diverse groups (Department of Health, 2010; Home Office, 2010) and health and social services are required by law to undertake equality and diversity assessments, and implement diversity plans (University of Stirling, 2009). We took a more proactive approach, with nurses and other professionals working side by side with community groups to support a change in mindset in the hope that changing how people think and feel would ultimately lead to healthierbehaviour and more sustainable use of health services. The broad aims of the programme were to:
  • Strengthen disadvantaged communities through targeted health interventions;
  • Break the cycle of inequalities;
  • Tackle major issues such as smoking, obesity, diabetes and heart disease;
  • Improve access to good-quality health services;
  • Learn new ways of working and roll out good practice to neighbouring areas.
Setting up the programme
Over the past two years, the Government Office for London funded Merton Healthcare (now part of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group) to provide targeted support for migrant communities. This work is being expanded into neighbouring areas with funding from NHS South West London Public Health.
Our programme involved three key strategies:
  1. A bilingual advocacy service was set up to signpost people to NHS services, run education workshops, identify ambassadors in the community and provide interpreting and translating services in GP practices and at home visits. Bilingual health advocates were able to help health professionals provide more responsive services because they understood the community and cultural influences on health, such as fasting or the use of alternative remedies.
  1. A six-week education programme was developed and run by a multidisciplinary team, including nurses, health coaches, paramedics, pharmacists, midwives, nutritionists and falls specialists. The programme helped participants set their own health goals and become mentors in their communities to share what they learnt.
  1. Large-scale educational open days were run in community venues to create a friendly environment where local people could meet professionals and ask for advice.
Outcomes of the programme
The programme has had a marked effect on how organisations work together, migrant people’s health behaviours and the use of hospital services. Some of the programme outcomes are listed below:
  • Audits have helped to enhance our understanding of the demographics of the area so services can be targeted appropriately;
  • A health diversity framework has been developed based on feedback from local people;
  • More patients from migrant groups are registering at GP practices and a new migrant registration policy has been developed;
  • Data about ethnicity and language preferences is being collected more routinely and more effectively at GP practices;
  • Migrant communities report feeling more educated and empowered to use GP and pharmacy services, rather than always relying on A&E (Box 1);
  • Colleges, health fairs, the YMCA, homeless charities and the heads of education are rolling out education strategies to help younger migrants, who are less likely to register with a GP, understand how to access services;
  • Partnerships have been developed with many stakeholders including patient representative groups, community groups, GPs, ambulance, pharmacy, midwifery and nutrition services,
  • Live Well projects, local authorities, libraries, children’s centres, schools and charities;
  • A dedicated team has been set up to promote diversity;
  • A bilingual health advocacy service has been set up to provide translators and undertake health promotion. Materials have been translated into languages such as Tamil, Polish, Urdu and Somali and there are plans to run antenatal classes in Tamil and Polish;
  • The education model for smoking cessation has been reviewed and a new GP practice-based model has been launched in the Tamil and Polish languages;
  • Over a two-year period, 22 six-week Help Yourself to Health education programmes have been run in schools, community centres, temples, mosques and other community venues, with 332 participants. Sessions focus on self-care, first aid at home and understanding how to access GPs, community pharmacists, A&E and other health services;
  • Four Stop the Clock information days have been held in community venues to provide advice about diabetes, smoking, heart disease and weight management. In total, 160 people attended a day about diabetes, 170 attended a Happy Heart event, 156 attended a Breathe Easy event and 36 NHS champions, patients, charity leads and council leads shared learning at a stakeholder event;
  • Smoking and weight-management clinics have been run at GP practices and community centres;
  • Flu vaccination clinics for homeless people have been promoted in collaboration with community pharmacists and a local charity. Over a one-year period, 40 homeless people received flu vaccinations and 33 received health checks;
  • Cultural awareness training has been delivered to 50 service providers including nurses, teachers, social workers, health visitors, children’s centre workers and physiotherapists. This includes a discussion of the education, health and insurance services in other countries and how this might impact on migrants’ expectations of the NHS.
It is important to note that there is a trend towards reducing the tidal wave of unnecessary A&E attendances in Merton. Since 2002, attendances at A&E departments across England have risen sharply. In 2009-10, over 20.5 million people attended A&E - an increase of almost 5% from the previous year (DH, 2012). This increase is thought to be due to confusion over GP out-of-hours services and a rise in migrant populations, members of whom are less likely to register with a GP and, therefore more likely to use A&E services.
In Merton, increases were also apparent (Table 1), but the health diversity initiative is helping to address this trend. Since the programme began in 2010, overall A&E usage rates have declined by 3%. This reduction is even more marked in the five practices serving the most deprived areas, which have received targeted support. Here, there have been reductions in A&E usage of around 10% (Table 2).
There remains work to do, but the trends are positive.
Implications for practice
The lessons learnt in Merton are applicable to many other areas; Box 2 outlines how to set up user-friendly services for minority ethnic groups.
The issue tackled here is pertinent throughout the UK - birth rates are rising and people are living longer, while there are increasingly diverse groups of people from different cultures, religions and demographic groups. Finances are becoming scarcer so commissioners, nurses and others at the frontline need to focus on preventive services and early interventions and to target people with higher levels of need.

Department of Health (2012) Reforming Urgent and Emergency Care Performance Management.
Department of Health (2010) Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS. London: The Stationery Office.
Johnson MRD (2006) Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health: A Critical Review of the Evidence. Warwick: University of Warwick.
Merton Council (2007) Ethnic Minority Strategy. Merton: Merton Council.
Office for National Statistics (2011) Population Estimates by Ethnic Group: Greater London Authority. London: Office for National Statistics.
Randhawa G (2007) Tackling health inequalities for minority ethnic groups: challenges and opportunities. Better Health Briefing 6. London: Race Equality Foundation.
University of Stirling (2009) Single Equality Scheme 2009-2012. Stirling: University of Stirling.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

TRANSLATION FIELD: The Journal of Specialised Translation on 'Game Localisation'

Game Localisation: Unleashing Imagination with 'Restricted' Translation

Read full article above.
From its humble beginning in the 1970s, the video games industry has flourished and become a world-wide phenomenon. Although most games are developed in Japanese and English, the globalisation of popular culture and the desire to expand to new markets have led most producers to localise their games into many target language versions. This has brought about the emergence of a new field in translation, game localisation, which combines elements of audiovisual translation and software localisation. This paper looks at the specific features of game localisation which give it its unique nature. It examines the priorities and constraints associated with translation of this particular genre, which relies heavily on imagination and creativity to deliver a satisfactory game experience. Using as a case study the best-selling PlayStation series, Final Fantasy, examples are presented to illustrate the challenges game localisers face, focusing particularly on linguistic and cultural issues.

Friday, 31 May 2013

TRANSLATION NEWS: Games Industry leaders on quality and localisation within the gaming industry - 25th - 26th June 2013

World's First Game QA & Localisation Forum to Host Inaugural Meeting of the QA Alliance


LONDON, May 17, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The Game QA & Localisation forum, featuring keynotes from EA, Sony & Microsoft, is the first ever event dedicated entirely to QA and localisation within the games industry, and takes place in London, UK from 25-26th June 2013.Through a combination of presentations, panels and interactive group workshops, the unique two-day meeting allows senior QA and localisation managers an opportunity to discuss new methods and techniques with peers who experience the same challenges, as well as the chance to network with some of the biggest names in the biz, including Sega, Ubisoft, EA, Sony, Microsoft, Codemasters, Paradox, Blizzard, Team17, Supercell, Freestyle Games, Unity and many more.

Taking advantage of such a gathering of leading industry figures, the event plays host to the inaugural meeting of the QA Alliance, a newly formed industry working group which aims to establish some international benchmarks and standards for the global games industry, helping to catalyse a change in the way QA is perceived both inside the industry and out.The QA Alliance is being lead by a committee of developers, including EA, Sony and Sega. Many developers who take their QA seriously are signing up to the QA & Localisation Forum in order to both benefit from the expertise presented there and also contribute to the important issues being discussed at the QA Alliance meeting.

Here's the full speaker line-up for the forum and a downloadable event programme is also available here

For quality assurance and localisation professionals in the gaming industry who are keen on setting international standards and raising the benchmarks for QA and localisation in their studio and globally, two whole days of inspiration awaits....

The Game QA & Localisation Forum takes place on 25th - 26th June 2013 in London, UK. Find the full program, event details and registration information about the summit on, phone +44-(0)20-7036-1300 or email

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Big Pharma Cannot Afford to be Lost in Translation by Cristina Falcão

Big Pharma Cannot Afford to be Lost in Translation by Cristina Falcão

Medical device growth is outpacing pharma industry. Europe accounts for about 30% of world revenues for medical equipment, the regulations for translation of medical devices in the EU affect a large portion of global device distribution; there are challenges in translation and communicating science in a multilingual world dominated by the de facto language of English. The EU alone has 23 mother tongues.

Since more and more clinical research and drug manufacturing are being done in multiple countries and in multiple languages, quality language services can help bring a drug to market faster, and can help streamline the clinical trial process. Translation may be required at many stages, including clinical research, regulatory submission and review, production and marketing. Moreover, expansion of the EU block into new member countries is also driving increased demand for medical and pharmaceutical translation services.

Technical translation is an art and a scientific process. Not understanding the crucial role of a technical translator is running blind in terms of competitive advantage; this person will be the ultimate responsible for the company’s bottom line – without a proper translation, no drug or medical device will have Marketing authorization.
If you do not understand, you cannot translate.
 “The hallmark of a good scientific translator is intellectual honesty and a sixth sense to realize that something is amiss.”(Henry Fischbach)
Knowing a foreign language alone is simply not enough. The plain truth of technical translation is that if the translator does not understand the original text, Gordon Gekko’s “there ought to be a picture of you in the dictionary under persistence kid” (*) does not apply.
Index: Directive 2001/83/EC (**); Costs; Metric Conversions, Diacritical Marks;Patent Effect; Cross-Cultural Communication
Directive 2001/83/EC   (Guideline on the readabilityof the labeling and package leaflet of medicinal products for human use)
Article 5 -requires that the particulars to be included in the labeling shall be easily legible, clearly comprehensible, and indelible
Article 59(3)- provides that the package leaflet shall reflect the results of consultations with target patient groups to ensure that it is legible, clear, and easy to use
 Article 63(2)  - requires that the package leaflet must be written and designed to be clear and understandable, enabling the users to act appropriately, when necessary with the help of health professionals. The package leaflet must be clearly legible in the official language or languages of the Member State(s) in which the medicinal product is placed on the market.
Each country has specific legislation about the legibility of product information with particular relevance to the correct translation of all foreign terms, including data resulting from clinical trials. Some countries allow for a second “helping” language exception, under special circumstances.
Developing a new medicine is a costly and long process. A faulty translation can result in market delay or lead to product recalls. Inaccurate translation of medical devices means they will not get in the market, or are defective and must be withdrawn.

The associated costs are too huge to portray. The Portuguese national agency for medicines, INFARMED, sends an average of four daily mandatory recalls to the pharmacies; 60% of those recalls come from inaccuracies due to bad translations affecting the leaflet and/or package labeling.

Metric conversions, Diacritical marksIt is especially important that any software used in the translation process supports internationalization functions.

Any drug leaflet or medical device needs translation into the local language including special characters and metric conversions. TheSI(“Système international d'unités”) is the world's most widely used system of measurement and any good translator needs to know how to convert units of measurement, especially because English speaking countries still use thesystem of Imperial units that is not accepted or understood in other countries.

NASA wrote specifications for a launch vehicle in metric units but the subcontractor implemented them in Imperial units. When they tried to launch the vehicle, it exploded.

Diacritical marks, such as the acute (´) and grave (`) are often called accents.

The correct usage of diacritics can be difficult at first for people who are only familiar with English spelling, but they are essential because the same word may have three different meanings, such as Portuguese “a” (the); “á” (at (hours)); “à” (to(place)).

Addresses and telephone numbers have different “readings” in different countries; in The Netherlands, a valid postal code includes four numbers followed by a space and two letters (e.g., “2714 GE”). Many software applications would reject such an entry as invalid, and thus make the address field unusable in that country.

Patent Effect

The majority of medical devices have new patents and oftentimes the instruments have bizarre names that have no clear connection with the device.

One good example is the use of “slap hammer,” an undifferentiated tool, as the name of a medical hook.
Cross-Cultural Communication
 Good translation is all part of successful cross-cultural communication. Idiomatic phrases are a particular problem, as they differ dramatically between cultures.
The word ‘protocol’ has different meanings in different languages, to the extent that the committee preparing the ISO 14155 standard had to use the term ‘Clinical Investigational Plan’ instead, to facilitate translation to many languages.
It takes two to Tango – cost cutting and underrating the work of a good technical translator is just as saying “We’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside, Takin' that ride to nowhere ,we'll take that ride.” (**)
(*)Wall Street - American drama film 
(**)Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001 on the Community Code Relating To Medicinal Products for Human Use, amended by Directive 2002/98/EC, Directive 2004/24/E and Directive 2004/27/EC.
(***)Talking Heads – “Road to Nowhere”