How Plain Language Helps With Translation

plain language“The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.” – George Eliot

It’s never okay when your English content needs translation before it’s translated into another language. We read a recent blog post from Acrolinx titled “Plain and Simple: How to Create Great Content Using Plain Language Strategies.” When you use plain language, your audience should understand your content the first time they read it.

We’ve kicked translation of healthcare and benefits information into high gear, so we thought it would be a good idea to touch on this subject!

Plain language means the following:

  • Content is organized.
  • Active voice is used.
  • Sentences are shorter.
  • Pronouns such as “you” and “we” are used.
  • Bullets, lists, and tables help break up content.

Why use plain language?

The Plain Writing Act of 2010 was signed to require federal agencies to use clear writing when communicating with the public. (Their guidelines can be found here.) Beyond government, plain language leads to efficiency. A reader will understand the content, and there will be less need for clarifying or explaining. If you, as a user, understand a company’s message, you are more likely to trust this organization.

What are some examples?

The Federal Plain Language Guidelines list examples. These examples are helpful because they give alternatives. Across different industries, the need for plain language is important. Plain language should be used any time complicated information needs to be presented and understood. Ask yourself before writing content:

  • What does my audience need to know?
  • Why is this information important?
  • Who are my end users? (What is their level of comprehension?)
  • Is the design and layout of my information presented clearly?

Plain Language and Translation

In the language service industry, we encourage you to create content using plain language. Simply put, if source content is clear, then translated content will be clear, too. We recommend giving your translation partner as much information as possible about the documents, too! (Provide us with the answers to the questions above. The more information our linguists have about the files they are translating, the better!)

Do you have any questions on plain language? Contact LinguaLinx today.

A Flag Is Not a Language!

world flagsWhy You Should Never Use Flags for Language Selection

Often, we see flags used for language selection. We do not recommend this. It becomes problematic because flags identify countries, not languages. This is very important when developing a multilingual website or when offering language selections on your LMS for eLearning courses, etc.

1. Many languages are spoken in several different countries

While there is no de jure (“from law”) official language in the United States, English is a majority language. English is also an official language in over 60 countries worldwide. Which flag do you choose for English? Spanish is a majority language in 20 countries over four continents. These are just two of many examples. How do you choose a flag to represent a language without potentially offending a population of another country for historical and colonial reasons?

2. Many countries have several different languages spoken

Some countries have multiple languages with designated legal status. India has two languages: English and Hindi. South Africa has 11 languages at the official level! These are just two of many examples.

3. Flags change

The most recent example of this is the Flag Consideration Project, a move by New Zealand’s government to get New Zealanders involved in the design of the country’s new flag. Libya and Myanmar have both changed their flags in the last five years!

So, now that we’ve covering what not to do (and why), let’s examine the best option available for responsive web design.

Take a look at the menu option of a website that we built and translated for one of our clients, The Bluest Sky Group. This ensures that the user will be able to read the names of the language and select the best option for browsing. Do you notice how we list the language names in a user’s native language? If there are too many to list on top of your home page, try a drop-down menu.

Bluest Sky Group  - Google Chrome 8182015 33659 PM.bmp

Are you looking for more tips on responsive website design and localization? Read more of our older posts and don’t hesitate to reach out to LinguaLinx today!

Nine Points on Healthcare Translation and Interpretation

healthcareRecently, on our blog, we have been talking about languages spoken in the United States. In our last post, “What Multilingualism in the USA Means for YOU!” we mention how these statistics affect a variety of industries. We wanted into more detail on one of these industries: healthcare.

Talking about regulatory compliance can be a bit dry, but important. In the case of healthcare, it is very important. Adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines, and specifications is a goal, and it is the law. Violation of regulations can result in punishment and fines. No one wants that! In terms of healthcare, language barriers can lead to a variety of issues including delay of service, denial of service, difficultly in communication between patients and providers, medical management issues, and improper use of preventative care.

  1. Historically, Language Access initiatives have been in place since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title IV).
  2. This was expanded upon in 2000 with the signing of Executive Order 13166 “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.”
  3. Since the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often referred to as ACA), we have seen a major rise in the need for translation.
  4. There are several components that one needs to pay attention to regarding patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP):
  • Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (The Civil Rights Provision)
  • Section 1311 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (The Plain Language Requirement)
  • Section 1001 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (The Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Provision)
  1. The Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) are materials required for translation.
  2. Uniform Glossary of Terms are terms commonly used in health insurance coverage such as “deductible” and “co-payment.” These also require translation
  3. Other materials to consider for translation are evidence of coverage, manuals, participant handbooks, provider directories, HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices (NOPP), etc.
  4. There is a threshold for providing translation for LEP patients. This is when there are 10% non-English speakers in a particular county. This becomes the rubric for providers to decide if language services are required or necessary and what languages to provide.

And of course, there is #9…

One of the many industries that we work in is healthcare. We work in it a lot, and we do it very well. The keys to being successful with healthcare translation are as follows:

  • Understanding the healthcare industry including the laws, rules, and regulations
  • Possessing knowledge of the multilingual landscape in the United States
  • Working with qualified, professional linguists and interpreters with subject matter expertise
  • Providing services including, but not limited to, document translation, multilingual desktop publishing (DTP), interpretation (consecutive, simultaneous, VRI, and OPI), transcription, audio and video localization, website localization, and software localization
  • Having healthy relationships (pun intended) with clients in which expectations and deadlines are discussed, planning is done, communication is great, and goals and expectations are met and exceeded
  • Use of translation memory tools that will help with cost savings, time efficiency and most importantly, consistency of key terms and phrases
  • Experience translating mandated languages

Any questions on how we can help you with your healthcare translations or interpretation services? Contact LinguaLinx today.

Four Ways to Reduce Errors with Technical Translation

technical translationAn organization with global aspirations will need to translate technical documents, eventually. We acknowledge this is not easy. Manuals, user guides, data sheets, SOPs are examples of materials that need to be reproduced in different languages with the expansion of overseas operations. Such content is very technical and detailed. Accuracy and quality are of utmost importance. We want to share these four tips based on our experience. These items can be addressed before files are sent to a language service provider (LSP) for translation. If you use these tips, the process will run more smoothly.

1. Perfect the source

If you’re translating technical documentation, first get your source language text right. These means making sure content is clean and free of errors, typos, and grammar mistakes. (FYI – LinguaLinx partners with Acrolinx. We can run your English content through this software as a free service before we begin!) It is a lot easier to clear up any mistakes with the source content rather than multiple files translated into multiple languages!

2. Use Plain Language

We like to say: “Write translation-friendly content.” But what does that mean? Keep sentences short. Use simple words. Avoid “unusable text” such as adjectives, nouns, adverbs, etc. Also, be precise. Don’t incorporate flowery language into steps and procedures. It is helpful to use bullets, outlines, and lists to organize information rather than large paragraphs of text. Also, use active voice. (The subject of the sentence performs the action.)

3. Take Care of Images

Images should be of high quality; users will need to read diagrams, legends, and related notes clearly. Provide layered source files for images if there is text embedded in them. Make sure images are labeled properly and are relevant to the content on the page. Also, consider image choice in relation to culture. Will your image choice work? For example: a manual showing how to drive a car. If the driver is driving on the right, this will not work for Japan, where people drive on the left side of the road. Also, your LSP partner can act like a cultural consultant when deciding if an image presents a cultural issue. After all, you don’t want to damage your brand’s reputation! (We covered images and graphics in a separate post “Great Tips for Graphics in Technical Communication.”)

4. Use the Right Software

Make sure your LSP partner uses translation memory tools. The TM stores all of your previously translated terms and segments in a database. Technical translation tends to be repetitive. The TM will ensure that terms used are consistent over time. Also, terms are discounted based on repetition. Translation memory is a savings for clients for both cost and efficiency. (For more on this, see a previous post, “Translation Memory 101 with LinguaLinx.”)

If you have any questions about our technical translation services, contact LinguaLinx today.

LinguaLinx Awarded GSA Schedule Contract


LinguaLinx Translation Services(TROY, NEW YORK, July 08, 2015) – LinguaLinx, Inc., a provider of multilingual communication services such as document and website translation, announced today the awarding of its General Services Administration (GSA) Language Services Schedule 738 II Contract.

According to Jonathan Smith, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, the new GSA Schedule Contract expands competitive options available to federal agencies with a need for language translation and interpretation services.

“The contract has pre-negotiated pricing, terms and conditions,” Smith explained. “This places LinguaLinx on a select list of translation providers available to federal buyers via pre-competed contracts that are Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) compliant.”

LinguaLinx’s Sales Manager also emphasized the importance of a GSA Schedule Contract to the company’s strategy for expansion into federal government markets.

“We have served over 50 different local and state government agencies with great success and cost efficiency,” explained Jim Maziejka. “The key to reaching federal agencies and offering the same value is making it easy to contract with LinguaLinx. Our GSA Schedule saves buyers time and administrative cost. It affords federal agencies and LinguaLinx with the opportunity to focus on the task at hand rather than on negotiating contractual parameters.”

LinguaLinx’s GSA Schedule Contract Number GS-10F-092CA is valid through May 17, 2020 with exercise options through May of 2035. For more information on purchasing LinguaLinx’s language services through the GSA Schedule Contract, please contact Jim Maziejka at 518-388-9000 or

About LinguaLinx, Inc.

LinguaLinx is a full-service international communications company providing an array of services including document and website translation in over 200 languages, multilingual graphic design and layout, voiceover, subtitling, eLearning localization, website development and hosting and interpretation. We also offer proofreading, editing, technical writing and content creation services. More information can be obtained by visiting


LinguaLinx, Inc.
Hedley Park Place | Suite 6001
433 River Street
Troy, NY 12180

Jonathan Smith
Chief Operating Officer
(518) 388-9000

What Multilingualism in the USA Means for YOU!

In a previous post, we talked about market research translation. Market research is key to the success or your business and organization and is essential in planning the launch of a new product or service. It allows you to get a feel for who your target customers are and how you can make your products or services connect to them. One of the important touch points that we wanted to explore further was language – not just globally, but right here in the United States. (Note: This information applies to all industries, not just market research!)

We put together this map (based on data from the United States Census) that shows the “Top 10 Multilingual States” and also the metropolitan areas nationwide where the population, ages 5 years and older, has 25 percent or more people who speak a language other than English at home.

Multilingual USA

What do these numbers mean for you and your business or organization?

Location, location, location!

  • From a market research perspective: 

    If you are conducting surveys in any of these areas, you may want to make sure your corresponding materials are translated so that your target customers can understand what they are being asked and provide adequate data. Also, their responses may need to be translated, too, so that data can be extrapolated!

  • From a safety perspective: 

    Signage, manuals, training, equipment! Any material created for the purpose of keeping the public or consumers safe while going about their day-to-day life. This can be walking down the street, shopping in a store, in the workplace, operating equipment, or driving a car! If there is a multilingual population, this information should be translated.

  • From a marketing and tourism perspective:

    A lot of cities are acknowledging their large multilingual populations and have developed Language Access Plans accordingly! This applies to citizens of a metropolitan area as well as tourists or visitors coming into an area.

  • From a healthcare perspective: 

    Access to language is very important for any patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Healthcare settings such as hospitals or other medical practices either work with or have interpreters (over the phone, in person, or through video.) Then, of course, there are mandates in place with provisions for LEP patients that need to be adhered to. The key to meeting mandates and providing healthcare access for all is quality translation! If you are in this industry and are located in one of these regions of the country, it is more than likely that your materials will need to be translated into multiple languages.

  • From an education perspective: 

    Similar to healthcare, mandates have been put into place to ensure that students with LEP have access to the same quality education as all students. In areas where there is great linguistic diversity, student facing and parent facing materials may and should require translation. Also, interpreters may need to be brought in to help students with testing, for parent-teacher meetings, or any similar occasions.

Good news! There is someone out there who can help you out with all of these tasks. We’ll give you a quick hint… it’s a language service provider (LSP) that works in all industries, languages, and file types! You guessed it – it’s LinguaLinx! Contact us today with any questions, concerns, or needs!

Choosing A Partner For Market Research Translation

Market Research TranslationMarket research can be defined as the action or activity of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences. Market research is important before launching a new product or service for a number of reasons. First, you will gain important insight about your potential new customers – spending habits, preferences, behaviors. Second, you can use those results (positive or negative) to adjust your ideas accordingly to make sure you are launching a successful product or service. Third, you can uncover new ideas for products and services based on survey findings. Fourth, you can discover ways in which to market new products or services to customers. Finally, you want your business or organization to succeed, and great success comes from planning.

In sticking with the market research theme, here are some questions for YOU to help figure out if market research translation is necessary and also to help you pick a partner for these needs!

1. What is the name of your business or organization?

2. What industry are you a part of?

3. What languages do your consumers speak?

If you are surveying customers in a global market, they may not speak English as a first language. Therefore, translating survey questions may be important in helping them understand the questions. Understanding the questions leads to quality answers. Quality answers lead to quality data. Let’s also look domestically. Note, in the United States, not everyone speaks English fluently. If you are surveying potential customers in certain states or cities, check to see what languages are spoken there and offer different language options. A great source is US Census data.

4. Do you currently work with any outsourced vendors?

a) If no, why not?

b) If yes, what qualifications do you look for when choosing outsourced vendors?

5. Have you ever considered working with a translation vendor?

a) If no, why not?

Allow us to interject. A lot of times we hear “we handle translations in house.” Being bilingual is great! But it might not be the best solutions to have bilingual employees handle translations. We make the case in a previous post: “Why You Should Outsource Your Translations.”

b) If yes, what questions would you ask a translation vendor before working with them?

We’ll help you out here. Does the vendor have experience in your industry? Do they use professional linguists? If they do, how to they test them? (LinguaLinx has a testing process in place to vet our linguists. We talk about it in one of our previous posts.) Does this vendor use the latest technology and/ or work with your file types? Do they use translation memory?

6. What goals would do you hope to accomplish when working with a translation vendor?

Interview potential vendors. Talk with them about your goals and objectives. A good vendor will want to align their goals with yours.

7. Identify any concerns that you might have in working with a translation vendor for market research translation.

Price, accuracy, consistency, turnaround time. These are typical responses. We understand all four concerns. We have measures in place for you. Translation memory is a savings.  It allows you to save cost over time while also using the same leverage for consistency. All work is translated edited and proofread by another linguist to help with quality and accuracy. Also, in market research, deadlines are tight. A good translation vendor will work with you on your deadlines to make sure they are met.

These are only a few questions to ask when choosing a partner for market research translation. If you have any other questions, contact LinguaLinx and we can help you!

A Website Localization Checklist from LinguaLinx

website localization checklistTranslating your website is a big step to help reach reaching global markets. It is a great entry point to reach a target market, without having to open a brick and mortar business. When deciding whether or not to translate your website, use the following questions as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases. This self-assessment should help align all mitigating factors with your company goals to come up with a perfect solution!

1. How much of your site do you want to have translated?

Your website probably has many components. Thoroughly research which areas of your website need to be translated and rank each component by priority. You can use website analytics to determine high traffic sections and which regions of the world people are accessing your site from.

2. Will you translate your website using translation proxy or a more traditional approach?

There are two options when it comes to translating your website. We compare them to buying or leasing a car. LinguaLinx offers both options.

Option #1: Traditional Website Translation (Buying a Car): You have total control. As a client, you own your content, you host your website, and you control the updates. Your partner LSP can either do the translation work right in your Content Management System (CMS) or work with exports of your content. If you want to be fully involved, this is the best approach.

Option #2: Website Translation Proxy (Leasing a Car): This is a more hands-off approach. As a client, you still own your own content, but your multilingual websites are hosted by a translation proxy. Your website will be crawled regularly for updates. (We talk more about this in a previous post.) Translations are still done by humans. We recommend this is you frequently update your site.

3. Are your layout and graphics localization friendly?

First, take a look at your layout. Languages using Arabic script, the Hebrew Alphabet, or the Syriac alphabet are read right to left. Therefore, the layout should be flipped, including menu and navigation bars. (Read a previous post where we talk about best practices for Arabic website localization.)

Second, assess your graphics and images. Values and attitudes vary across nations and cultures. It is a great idea to use cultural consulting. Cultural consultants are in-country native speakers who live in your target market, so they understand the language and the cultural nuances, taboos, etc.  They can tell you if images, gestures, color choices, and other components are culturally appropriate. After all, you don’t want to offend your target customers with your website! It is much easier to switch out a different image of a group of people, or to replace a graphic with a much more suitable one before any damage to your brand is done!

4. Is your website mobile friendly?

According to data from eMarketer, mobile ecommerce is on the rise in the United States. (Though it is important to point out that desktop/laptops and tablets are still very much in the lead.) Across cultures, mobile web usage continues to increase due to the growth in smartphone usage. For example, forty percent of Hispanic Millennials in the United States (ages 18-34) are mobile-only Internet users! Most importantly, Google’s latest algorithm update wants websites to be mobile friendly. For SEO and accessibility reasons, make sure you have a mobile-friendly site! Read more about Google’s update in this article from Moz.

5. Do you want localization testing?

More like, do you need it? Localization testing is always recommended. It happens before and after. Before localization occurs, LinguaLinx can assess your site to see if your website supports multilingual content, bi-directional scripts, different currencies, and other components of the user interface (UI). After content is translated and imported into the content management system (CMS), we check for functionality and in-context review to make sure everything looks good, works properly, and is culturally appropriate before the site goes live for your global customers!

Want to know more about website localization? Contact LinguaLinx to set up a call today!

Global Marketing Spotlight: South Korea

South KoreaDiversity is the language of commerce, and an increasing number of the world’s consumers are now located outside the United States. At LinguaLinx, we know that marketing to a global customer base may prove challenging, but definitely rewarding. Occasionally, we like to shine a spotlight on a different global market. Earlier this year, Bloomberg released their 30 Most Innovative Countries. Guess who took #1? That’s right, South Korea.

Here are some things to look out for when focusing your global marketing efforts on this East Asian nation:

The Language

True or False, Korean is linguistically similar to Chinese and Japanese. If you say “False,” then you are correct! Here is some recommended reading: “Korean introduces new challenges to localization,” featured in the July/August 2014 issue of MultiLingual magazine. In it, the author describes Korean as a loner: a language isolate. While Korean vocabulary is heavily influenced by Chinese culture, the structure of the language is very different. Also, Korean has its own alphabet, called Hangul. Using native speakers to translate content in Korean is very helpful for localization. They will be familiar with the language and its unique characteristics, as well as the appropriate tone to use so that your content is presented to your end users in a respectful, friendly, and effective manner.

Adopt “Koreanness”

Any time you enter a new market, it is important to account for cultural differences. If you align your products to suit the needs of your target customers, then you will find success. It is important to identify with the culture. The Korean population is connected, well-educated, urban, and homogeneous. Korean interest in foreign brands has taken off since the late 1980s. If you ignore Korean culture, you will end up like Wal Mart, which closed their stores in 2006. Take a page out of Starbucks’ book. Did you know that Seoul (the capital of South Korea) has the most Starbucks locations than any city in the world? Starbucks partnered with Shinsegae, a Korean company, to help with marketing and product development. Tea drinking is preferred in Asia, but Starbucks has become a status symbol and a luxury brand. They also set up their locations as places to hang out.

Get Connected

The South Korean population is very digitally connected. They are near the top of the world in smartphone usage. If you have a [Korean] website, make sure it is mobile-friendly! Also, on the web, make sure your site is set up for ecommerce. Will you ship directly to consumers, or can you partner with a third party vendor to ship your products?

Questions on Korean translation? We’ve got you covered. Contact LinguaLinx today!

Celebrate Russian Language Day!

Russian Language DayDid you know that tomorrow (June 6th) is Russian language day? In 2010, the United Nations created language days for each of their six official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.  Their goal is to promote multilingualism and cultural diversity. June 6th was chosen as it is the birthday of Alexander Pushkin, the Father of Russian Literature. At LinguaLinx, we love languages. Words are our business, and our passion. In fact, our President, David Smith, holds degrees in Russian Language and Literature as well as Russian Translation! Let’s take a moment and celebrate Russian!

Currently, there are about 155 million nature Russian speakers in the world (about 2.33% of the total population.) Russian is an official language in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. It is also an important secondary language in other countries due to the influence of the former Soviet Union.

Nine Fast Facts about the Russian Language:

1. The Russian alphabet uses Cyrillic script and has 33 letters.

2. Russian is called an “International Language of Space” – astronauts must learn it on the international space station.

3. Russian is the seventh most used language on the Internet with over 87 million users!

4. A lot of modem words related to computers are borrowed directly from English

  • Example: компьютер =  computer
  • Example: чат =  chat

5. Russian has no word for the, a or an.

6. There are only about 500,000 words in the Russian language. (There are over 1,000,000 words in the English dictionary!)

7. Only about 2,000-2,500 of these words are used frequently.

8. There are three genders in Russian language: masculine, feminine and neuter.

9. Russian’s closest language cousins are Ukrainian and Belorussian.