We Speak Your Language: Website Language Translation Best Practices
// By Althea Fung //
The number of people in the U.S. who speak a language other than English is growing. One in five U.S. residents age 5 and older speaks a language other than English at home. That number has more than doubled since 1990. In the nation’s largest cities — New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Phoenix — as much as half the population speaks another language at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
To meet the needs of the growing LEP (Limited English Proficiency) population, hospitals have to provide information in various languages. While having individual policy documents translated is manageable, translating an entire website can be daunting.
Matt Hauser is senior vice president of content solutions at TransPerfect, a language services company. For more than 20 years, TransPerfect has offered human and machine translation services in more than 170 languages to organizations in a variety of fields, including healthcare. In an interview, Hauser described how organizations should go about translating their websites.
“You don’t want your end users to read something and have it come across as a translation,” Hauser says. “They should read something and feel like it was written in their own language.” If possible, he recommends using native speakers, whether they live in the United States or abroad. The goal with any translation is to sound natural.