Oct 22, 2010

Translation Matters!! ---Running online research in Asia : 1

We are perfectly aware that language translation is always an issue when it comes to running surveys in Asia. As an Asian data collection firm we've received many surveys in Japanese/Chinese/Korean which are the local languages of where we have proprietary panels in. Looking at these surveys translated, there are some points we find importance in, to keep the whole survey to make sense in order to maintain the data accuracy and also to maintain panelist's loyalty towards research surveys.

Maybe these would be some points project managers may want to double confirm with the translation company before approval... "comprehensible" is the minimum, to ensure the data quality and sustain the valuable online panels in the region, we sincerely do like to request the focus into the points below.

"Usage of respectful form(honorifics) for personal pronouns and at the end of sentence"

At least in Japanese and Korean, and not as much but in Chinese as well, there are honorifics that do not exist in English language. What we sometimes see in commissioned surveys are, since the personal pronouns are literally translated, the respondent as in "you" being called in a disrespective manner. This upsets the respondent much more than you can imagine, so we recommend all personal pronouns that points the respondent "you" to be "anata(Japanese)" or "dang sin(Korean)".

Moreover, we do see questionnaires in imperative form to ask for answering especially at the end of the sentence... this is another obvious miscommunication point.

"Usage of pronouns"

Using correct pronouns to indicate something shown in the survey is important, especially when it comes to questions asking about multiple images. We do frequently see mistakes in both questions and options for this, which would affect research results severely.

To prevent data corruption and fraudulent response due to mistake from these fundamental language difference, we do recommend you to consult with your client to run a "back translation", how you have the "translated version" questionnaire translated "back" to English in order to make it possible to compare with the original version.