As part of our research process for developing the visual aids and illustrated translations, we spoke to many healthcare workers from various hospitals. One key message that kept coming back was how they needed to work fast and efficiently due to the large numbers of patients who they screen through daily. Getting the migrant workers to read long sentences and paragraphs of text also takes time. Some might find it a challenge due to literacy level, even if the text is in their own script font.

So based on these learning points, the kind of translation style we go for is:

  • Brief/short. Chop long sentences into shorter ones, in active voice. Being short and instructive tends to pair well with the tasks and actions that the medical staff are doing. Short phrases will also work well with the illustrations, making the illustrated translations more modular and applicable to different settings.
  • Simple. We use simple words, because simple aids comprehension. Instead of "performing a swab on you", say "giving you a swab".
  • Clear. Shorten without sacrificing clarity. For the nurses/doctors, being precise about certain terms is important.
  • Informal. These translations are used in non-formal settings, so there's no need for formalities in speech. We remove unnecessary adjectives, figures of speech, e.g. instead of "Before we do that, we need to say that...", just say the thing!

For example:

❌ "Do you have a cough?"
✅ "Cough?"

❌ "Keep your head in an upright position"
✅ "Keep your head upright."

❌ "We are going to perform a throat and nasal swab on you. The instructions on what you need to do are below. Before we do that, we need to say that the swab may feel a bit uncomfortable but during the process, please do not move."
✅ "Giving you swab now. For your throat. Then your nose. It is uncomfortable. Do not move."

These are guiding principles based on the best knowledge we have at the moment, and it may change depending on new information coming in, and also different context/environments. If you have any suggestions and feedback, we welcome it too! Contact us here. :)