Tag Archive for Reputation

Inaccurate translation could lead to death sentence for store operator

We have discussed how given the right set of circumstances medical translation can be a matter of life and death. An inaccurately translated prescription, a failed communication between a doctor and patient, a breakdown in an emergency room exchange, each underscores the importance of clear, accurate translation.

A recent case in Egypt points up another example of where a failure in translation can have potentially dire consequences. Mostafa Soliman, a dual U.S./Egyptian citizen, found himself in December arrested and looking at a possible death sentence as a consequence of a poor translation.

The problems began when Soliman, operator of vitamin and health supplement business, imported non-psychoactive hemp seed oil into Egypt. Egyptian customs inaccurately translated “hemp oil” as “hash oil,” a significant problem as Arabic does not have a separate word for “hemp,” classifying any permutation of the cannabis plant simply as cannabis.

After being first held at a Cairo police station Soliman was soon transferred to a maximum-security prison, where he reportedly shared an eight-foot-by-eight-foot cell with up to 30 people, including thieves, rapists, and murderers.

He was finally granted bail only to have the legal process interrupted by the protests in Egypt, during which a mob freed the inmates of the prison. At present, while out of jail, he is attempting, amidst considerable confusion, to clarify the misunderstanding.

Soliman’s story serves as yet another cautionary tale. When it comes to communication, we take translation lightly at our own peril.

Till next time,

A hearty good luck to the translators at this year’s World Cup

We spend a good deal of time and energy in our discussions here exploring the challenges that go along with medical translation. And there are many to be sure; our world is only growing more heterogeneous and complicated. But sometimes it can be reassuring to remember that other industries face even greater translation challenges.

This occurred to me in reading about the World Cup currently under way in South Africa. Just consider for a moment that this event, the largest sporting spectacle in the world, is comprised of teams from 32 nations, with 350,000 on-site fans, 500 million more watching on TV, and by some estimates more than $3 billion in media and marketing revenues.

I began to imagine the sorts of heavy lifting necessary to ensure that all the various audiences, with their unique languages and cultures, enjoy equal access to accurate, up-to-date information about the games. South Africa alone has 11 official languages!

A recent post on the Global Watchtower blog identified just a few of items on what must be a very long list. Needs include signage, website localization, translation of tourist brochures, press announcements, voice-over, and on-site medial translation support. The official World Cup website itself is available in six languages (Arabic, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese).

So, if you ever feel overwhelmed by your medical translation demands, just remember: It could be worse. J

Good health!

What does it mean for you that people can search your name on Twitter?

When talking about social media, we tend to concentrate on how you can leverage these tools to reach your various limited English proficient (LEP) audiences. But while you’re addressing those issues, bear in mind that those audiences are also using the same tools to talk about you.

Last year, both Google and Bing struck deals with a number of social media sites to include those sites in their real-time search results. The sites include Facebook, FriendFeed, MySpace and others. It also includes Twitter. You once had to use Twitter’s internal search functionality to search. Now, both what you say on Twitter and what others say about you is easily indexed in the results.

Why is this important? It’s important in terms of reputation management. The days of controlling the message are gone. Today, the conversation is global, and while that offers incredible communication opportunities, it also can be potentially damaging. Do a search on yourself here: http://www.bing.com/twitter. See what comes up.

Online reputation management is nothing new for doctors and other health care providers; it has just gotten more complicated. As the tools and means for communicating evolve, new challenges arrive with the new opportunities. Learn what you need to do to manage those challenges.

Good health!


The right language services provider often starts with a recommendation

You’re in healthcare, not healthcare translation. So how are you to know who is the best language services providers for your audiences? It’s an important question and one you want ideally to make just once. So, treat it like your patients treat finding the right doctor: Do your homework.

The best and most reliable way to start is to solicit recommendations from colleagues. You’re looking for someone who has experience in your field, and who has worked with the agency in question.

You can also go directly to the agencies themselves. Experienced agencies place a lot of importance on their reputation and a good one will be happy to provide references. In addition, companies that bid on large translation contracts are often required to provide resumes for translators with specific qualifications. A review of individual translators’ resumes is a great way to predict how your project will turn out.

Good health!