Case Study

How Cultural Adaptation Works in Translation Projects

A peak cancer organisation in Australia engaged Sylaba Translations in the translation into 9 languages of a set of fact sheets. The purpose of the translations was to inform Australian migrants, refugees and asylum seekers of basic information about cancer and cancer prevention.

In our initial scoping session we identified the risk of certain concepts being culturally sensitive. For the translations to be effective, we knew that we needed to mitigate these risks by adapting the message to the beliefs of each cultural group.

To do this, we ran community consultations prior to translation to:

understand the barriers that different communities have when it comes to cancer prevention.

address those barriers and produce information that speaks to each audience.

This is some of what came out of the consultations:

  • Some Arabic and Indian communities believe cancer is contagious.

  • Some minorities in the Greek community believe cancer is incurable.

  • Can you catch cancer from someone else? No. Cancer is not contagious. People can’t catch it from someone who has it. It is safe to be near someone who has skin cancer or any other type of cancer.

Because this statement only applied to the Arabic and Indian communities, we only included it in the Arabic and Hindi translations.

Cultural adaptation at work!

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