Jeff Good and collaborators publish in Bulletin of the World Health Organization

The paper, Public health information for minority linguistic communities, seeks to raise awareness that assuming people from minority language groups will be able to read public health information in a majority language overlooks how language choice influences the message’s reception.

“I don’t know of another collaboration of this type that has local speakers working with linguists, social scientists and public health experts to accurately disseminate public health information. ”

In many minority or marginalized groups around the world, using the language of the majority may evoke histories of domination and exclusion, which would have a negative influence on the perceived trustworthiness of the communicator.

“Trusting a message depends upon more than translating a message. ”

Jeff Good, Professor Dept. of Linguistics

The project outlined in the paper, VirALLanguages, is a volunteer-led initiative including partners at UB, the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, with training in linguistics, social sciences and public health.

VirALLanguages’ design prioritizes message production in minority languages featuring esteemed community members. The project also trains native speakers to create original messages, rather than producing translations of standardized messages, because translation alone is not enough, according to Good, who serves as a VirALLanguages project director

The WHO Bulletin paper, Public health information for minority linguistic communities, is available for free download.

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