HT Localization Presents Language Translations for Real Life: New Year Resolutions for 2013 – Estoy Constipada

Segment 13 - New Year Resolutions for 2013 – Estoy Constipada

Why do people make New Year Resolutions?  We all know that well over 85% of all New Year Resolutions fail.  People across the world embrace the New Year, promising and hoping for something that will deliver a better tomorrow for themselves, family, friends, neighbors, country and/or the world.  

 “I want to obtain financial freedom/true love/better health... I’ll try to be a better...

person/partner/parent/sibling/worker.  I’ll quit smoking/ drinking/gambling...I'll start dieting/ exercising/ reading..."

Simply check out Google's Zeitgeist project, where the company maps New Year's resolutions from people around the world. It is a cool feature that lets one post his/her own resolution and read other resolutions real-time in their preferred language.   It is pretty neat, and on the lower right hand side of the screen you will see that “All messages have been automatically translated by Google Translate.”  Spend a few minutes reading the translations, and you may be inspired by some, and get a chuckle by others (machine translation can be an art as much as a science, but I’m not going to discuss machine translations in this article).

Many people who make the resolutions find it difficult to actually commit to such resolutions.  I have to admit that every year I make a resolution, and by the time July rolls around, I totally forgot I even had a resolution for the year! This year, I asked myself, “So why bother?  What can I promise to do that would be different this year, and will I really kept the resolution?” Then it came to me. The problem is not the promise, nor the intent, but the will power to execute and stay the course.  Many people have the desire to keep their good intentions, but have a hard time figuring out a plan of execution.  

So I decided on my New Year resolution today. Very simple: Get my health in order!  You may think, What’s so special about that?  But it really is not that simple for me.  I’ve been an expat in Spain for about 4 years now, and I have not been to the doctor for myself, even once!  And surprisingly, that is not uncommon for expats living in a foreign country.  

Why? Because…

  • “Estoy Constipada” means "My nose is stuffed up", not "I'm constipated." Can you imagine the first time the pharmacist asked me about this?  While I know some basic Spanish, I don’t know medical terms or how to express health related things in the local language.  
  • When I answered “Si” to this question “¿Estas embarazada?”  I ended up in the maternity ward, without quite knowing why.  I get embarrassed speaking about health related things in general, let alone trying to explain personal things in a foreign language.  
  • When I first read this: “Estar como minimo 4 dias antes sin manchar”  I was not sure if I had to take extra care to wash the germs off of my hands, or if it referred to something else.  I cannot totally translate written materials from Spanish to English on the fly, nor do I have the confidence that I completely grasp the information.  
  • Every healthcare system has its own uniqueness. I went to what I thought was a doctor’s appointment, and told the two “doctors” my entire medical history (in Spanish), they listen kindly, and then at the end, they said in Spanish “We’re not the doctors, tell it to the nurse or doctor next time you see them”.  So then, who the heck were they? I still don’t know.  I am not familiar with the local medical system, structure or processes involved.  
  • ¿Perdone?  Because, my ears ache from people repeating things LOUDER, when I look confused.

If you remember my very first Blog segment, Expats have Translation Needs Too, I refer to the need for helping expat or immigrant residents navigate in the medical system…yes, that would apply to yours truly too.  

In the U.S., there used to be an idea that everyone living in the country and using the public resources should have a working knowledge of the American English language; hence business/social services were delivered in English. Well, we all know how that turned out, luckily today in many places in the U.S., important services such as healthcare, social security, etc. are also available in other languages such as Spanish, Chinese, French, etc.  

Now here I am.  I promise to keep up with my own personal health, which I’ve avoided for some time due to language barriers.  How am I going to make a plan of execution for my New Year Resolution of getting my health in order?   I either need to find doctors and staff (i.e. receptionist, nurse, etc.) who all speak English here, or I simply need to bit the bullet and try jumping in the Spanish medical world.  Medical translations are a real-life need, not just for the practitioners, but for the patients too!  

Happy New Year to you and good luck with your own Resolution this Year!

… Stay tuned for the next Segment of HT Localization Presents Language Translations for Real Life Series, where we’ll explore … Getting Back to Business for International Success.

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This article was written by Rachanee Thevenet, Co-Founder of HT Localization.  Rachanee is an Asian-American expat living in Spain with her family.  She loves all things international including food, art, literature, culture, languages and people.  She has years of product marketing expertise and global expansion experience.

HT Localization, LLC. is a worldwide translation & localization agency providing a full range of professional language translation services, including social media localization, marketing translations, website translations, software localization, eLearning materials, documentation translations, etc.  With locations in the US, Spain, Zambia & Thailand, and coverage across all languages and most industries, HT Localization is well positioned to provide around the globe services for all translation needs.  

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