We aim to reach as many people as possible sharing reliable and memorable information so people know what to do to stop the spread of coronavirus.
AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
We trust information when it reaches us in the right language and through the right medium. Written information in the language of the government may not be taken at face value in areas where the majority of reliable information is shared in local languages orally. Reaching as many people as possible means finding different ways to share lifesaving information in different languages and media.
This is two-sided: perceived reliability and inherent reliability.
The communities we address typically speak marginalised languages and are often located in relatively remote areas of the globe. Each of these communities have their own ways of assessing the reliability of a source of information, or, more simply put, believing and trusting information. We attempt to diffuse information featuring speakers who are widely known and highly esteemed in their community—e.g. traditional authorities, local medical doctors, etc.
We rely on the WHO as our main source of information and partner with Public Health specialists around the globe. We have developed a detailed protocol to avoid the accidental inclusion during the translation process of any misrepresentations of information from the WHO. For this reason, all our collaborators must comply with this protocol, which is designed to ensure that our messages will not diffuse false or otherwise potentially harmful information.
Communicating information that people can understand and will trust is only possible through native speakers who are able not only to translate from a major language to a local one, but also to adapt features of the translated text in ways that make it more appropriate to the environment, customs, and speech style that are most relevant to each language community. Proverbs, metaphors, and diverse rhetorical strategies are key to get the information across in a way that will enable behavioral change necessary to save lives. It is also important for any specific examples to be tailored to local ways of living. For example, recommendations to disinfect doorknobs will be meaningless in places where doorknobs are hardly found.
We focus on endangered languages of Cameroon and this is where we have started working thanks to our existing network of collaborators. Here is a list of the languages we are working on right now. But we want the project to go global and provide culturally-appropriate translations of WHO advice in as many “tiny” languages as possible, so we need you!