It’s a grand day when research supports what we know intuitively. For many years we at CEH have been advocating for writing in plain language for translation and were thrilled to see research from Macquarie University that supports what we’ve known from practice experience.

All Graduates Interpreting and Translating together with a group of academics from the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University set out together ‘…to study the impact that text simplification could have on the quality of translations in some …community languages.’ [1]

A quick rundown on the methodology – three translators from each language were asked to translate texts at three different levels of readability, the translations were then quality checked by independent translators from the same language.

What happened? As you’d expect the higher the readability score the higher quality the translations were – so the plainer the language, the more accurate the translations, and lower the cognitive load (how hard the task was for translators).

What does this mean for practice? This is important for several reasons, not the least being communicating important health information in the context of a pandemic!! The research indicates benefit in working with language services providers to assess the readability of English text and simplifying text where the readability score is too low prior to translating.

Keep your text simple and most people will understand your message whatever the language!!

And finally, a shout out to Ismail and his team at All Grads whose investment and support for the industry is much appreciated and valued by those of us who advocate for language service provision.