Somewhat to the side of medical translation and interpretation, but interesting nonetheless: here’s a summary of a study on how words commonly used in English to describe disasters might be heard differently by immigrants from other cultures.
In Losing cultural context in emergency communication can be a matter of life and death, published in The Conversation, the authors observe, “We noticed how minor deviations in translation can cause significant differences in understanding. Such misunderstandings can have catastrophic consequences.
“Clear language is essential in emergency communication. Being able to distribute disaster information can be a matter of life or death. We’ve seen how migrant communities are often hit harder than others by disasters, such as in Hurricane Katrina, when many failed to evacuate in part because storm warnings were broadcast mainly in English. Many migrants to the U.S. do not arrive with a clear understanding of basic hazard terms in English, such as ‘hurricane’ and ‘tornado,’ that are used by local weather channels and in emergency communications.”
Check out the piece for an interesting foray through the meaning of terms such as tornado or typhoon in various languages. It’s also worth taking a broader look at The Conversation, which describes itself as delivering academic rigor with journalistic flair, here.