Tag Archive for spanish

A Month that Calls for Celebration

It would be an understatement to say that most of you are a just a little preoccupied with the pending Health Insurance Exchanges that will be here in mere days. With open enrollment and the ACA weighing heavily on everyone’s minds, I thought I’d change gears and write about something uplifting that everyone can celebrate, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Starting in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson, National Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those with origins from Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

In a richly diverse nation full of the world’s many wonderful cultures and backgrounds, people of Hispanic origin still comprise the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority. Those of you that handle language access for your healthcare organization may find it no surprise that Spanish is also the second most common language in the country, and is spoken by over 30% of the population.

From the NFL to the nation’s capital, and many communities and events in between, it’s easy to find a way to join in a celebración of this historical month.

For tips on how to make the most of your marketing efforts to your Hispanic audiences check out these resources from VIA:


Remember fellow medical translators, Spain is more than just Spanish

It bears repeating: Language matters. It is, of course, one of our abiding mantras at viaLanguage and one that we keep top of mind when working with our healthcare clients as they endeavor to reach their limited-English proficient (LEP) patients.

And it’s not easy. As anyone involved in medical translation, or any kind of translation, can tell you, it involves a great deal more than replacing the words of one language with those of another. We’ve discussed how Spanish, for example, can differ from country to country, but that’s just the beginning.

Consider the challenges of communicating with your patients from Spain. This would seem a fairly straightforward situation: use Spanish or perhaps neutral Spanish. But a recent post on the Medical Translation Insight blog underscored why this might not be as easy as it seems at first blush.

In truth, Spain is culturally and linguistically diverse. And while Spanish is admittedly the dominant language, did you know that the country actually has five official languages? They are Castilian, which is also referred to as Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Aranese.

Not surprisingly, the Spanish tend to be multilingual, but the speakers of these other languages are proudly protective of their language’s role in the culture and history of their people and region.

To learn more about the language breakdown in Spain, visit the blog post. In the meantime, it’s good for us to remember that to communicate effectively we must never ignore our duty to develop an understanding of the culture of our audience, even when it seems obvious.

Good health!

One medical blog is doing its part to reach the growing Hispanic population

If you read viaLanguage’s companion blog, WorldMarketer, and I recommend you do for its useful insights for your general multicultural marketing efforts, you’ve seen a spate of posts recently exploring the growing importance of the exploding Hispanic population in the U.S.

The larger commercial world is working hard to respond to this dramatic demographic shift, attempting to understand and meet the unique and varied needs of this increasingly influential group. This is just as true for heath care-related organizations, including those in the life science industries, many of whom may even be guilty of having overlooked this audience.

If this is true of your organization, it might be time to follow in the footsteps of one organization that is sincerely trying to do it right. Medgadget, a journal of what it describes as “emerging medical technologies,” has launched a companion Spanish website as well as a Spanish Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Medgadget is written, edited, and published by a team of independent doctors and biomed engineers. We can assume that their decision to devote the time and expense necessary to build and launch the Spanish-only adjuncts was informed by an understanding of the growth of the Hispanic population.

But whether driven by numbers or not, the site likely stands to benefit, as do Spanish-speaking Medgadget readers who now have a choice, which research has revealed is very important to this audience.

How would your Spanish-speaking audience rate your communications?

Good health!

Healthcare translation 140 characters at a time

If your job is communication, it is both an exciting and a confusing time to be alive. Not only have globalization and the Internet changed the makeup of audiences, new tools are rapidly transforming the way we reach those audiences. In healthcare, add to this the ongoing debate about reform and it can be hard to know where to start.

Even if you never Tweeted, you’ve likely heard of Twitter, perhaps even in this blog. An increasingly popular microblogging tool, Twitter has been embraced by legions of people, including companies as diverse as Dell and La Superior (the hole-in-the-wall taqueria near my house).

Twitter recently announced that in addition to English and Japanese, the site will soon be available in French, Italian, German, and Spanish. This is meaningful as these additions account for some of the most active languages online.

It is, of course, too early to tell if the tool will find as large and as rabid an audience among users of these languages as is currently enjoyed among English and Japanese users, but it seems a good bet.

So the question for healthcare is this: How can we leverage Twitter to better communicate with patients? If you don’t have a ready answer, maybe it’s time for a conversation with your language services provider.

Good health!


Swine flu outbreak points up the need for healthcare translation

I ran across an interesting post recently on the Chicago Tribune health blog, Triage. It was a brief alert to Spanish speakers that the National Council of La Raza had compiled on its Web site resources ― in Spanish and English ― about the swine flu. And it got me thinking.

The post underscored in a couple ways the complexity those in the healthcare industry face given the myriad languages and cultures with which it must deal every day. First, the post about Spanish was in English on an English blog. That’s interesting. Second, it was notable that having originated in Mexico, the disease apparently had not received adequate explanation in Spanish for some audiences in the U.S.

The council’s decision to include both languages also illustrated a very important point about communicating with Spanish-speaking limited English proficient (LEP) patients: They prefer bilingualism to exclusive Spanish.

One wonders if non-Spanish speakers who happened to be in Mexico during the outbreak received adequate English translation of important information related to the flu. In our interconnected global world, we simply cannot afford to ignore such needs.

Good health!


Save time, money and effort with a translation memory

In my post on February 9 about healthcare translation for Spanish speakers, I referred to developing a “translation memory.” As this may be a new idea for some, here are few more details on this important healthcare translation tool.

A translation memory is a valuable asset no matter what language is being dealt with. As a database of previously translated documents, the translation memory should ideally account for all the languages spoken by the communities with which you operate.

Documents best suited to inclusion in your translation memory include those that do not change much over time such as order forms and technical instructions. Large documents that go through new editions on a regular basis are also good candidates.

The benefits can be dramatic. Not only does a translation memory help build efficiencies into your translation initiatives, it promotes consistency across documents, and can cut up to 25 percent from future translation costs. That’s a healthy savings.

Good health!

Don’t forget cultural elements in your next medical translation project

Vocabulary and grammar are just two parts of effective medical translation. Accounting for the cultural makeup of your audience also plays a key role in determining if you’ll be understood. Ignoring it can be costly for you and your patient.

We call this step “cultural adaptation” and it provides the lens through which your non-English-speaking communities view your healthcare organization, your products and services, and ultimately your value.

Colors, symbols, images — all are part of your message. In fact, they are often responsible for the initial response in your audience before even a single word is read. So it’s imperative to adapt the entire communication, not just the words, to ensure the desired result.

The right translation partner can help you understand the protocols and taboos for effectively communicating with all your healthcare communities.

Good luck!