Translation alone is often not enough to ensure an accurate message; cultural differences can make it easy to misunderstand the intended meaning of a text. For this reason, VeraSci insists that cultural adaptation and localization are not an option when it comes to clinical trials. In honor of the upcoming holiday season, here are a few examples of cultural and location-based differences in traditions that a skilled linguist would be best suited to navigate.

Both Culture and Location Matter

Cultural adaptation and localization make translations both accurate and relevant to the reader. Imagine a French family sends out Christmas cards wishing everyone a happy holiday and encouraging them to keep warm. Their French acquaintances will appreciate the sentiment, but their friends in Australia will laugh. Being in the southern hemisphere, Christmas comes during summertime in Australia. Many people celebrate by going to the beach! Ideally, the message would be modified to encourage the Aussies to stay cool. This type of adaptation applies to clinical trials too; in fact, it can improve the quality of formally translated instruments by ensuring tasks, stimuli, instructions, and scoring are appropriate for populations of interest.

While many cultural traditions share similar origins, the traditions themselves can still diverge based on locale. For example, during Hanukkah, many Jewish families eat oil-based foods to commemorate the rededication of the temple and how a single jar of oil miraculously kept the Menorah lit for eight days. When this tradition is translated around the world, there are Jewish families in New York eating potato latkes while the Baghdadi Indian Jewish community in Kolkata (Calcutta) eat Malida made with flattened sweet rice. While both foods are fried in oil, they are still two different dishes.

Local Language Experts are Key

VeraSci’s certified translators and localization experts take the differences in culture and locale into account and modify their translations to best connect with the audience, smoothing the way for successful multi-lingual communication. These global language experts are typically native speakers of a target language and often hold advanced degrees in related fields. Many have clinical experience and are qualified to train raters and administer scales. The expertise of VeraSci’s linguists ensures that training and materials for international clinical trials are accurate and relevant to the staff and trial participants at each site regardless of location. This results in a reduction of misunderstandings that might cloud the clarity of the data being gathered.

Recognizing and adapting to cultural differences is imperative to the success of clinical trials with sites in multiple countries. Inaccurate translations can cause expensive delays, compromise data, or endanger patient health. VeraSci’s linguists modify translations and interpretations to reflect cultural and local norms.

From life-saving clinical trials to appreciating beautiful holiday traditions, cultural adaptation and localization should be used to promote understanding and improved communication worldwide.