ReliefWeb: Found in Translation

Tuesday, 03 September 2019

Tuesday, 3 September 2019 | Worldwide | OCHA | ReliefWeb

Recent visitors to the ReliefWeb mobile site might have noticed a new language switcher - you can now choose among English, French, Russian or Spanish.

To be clear, this won't bring translated content. (Translating 650,000 reports from English into two other languages would merit a much bigger announcement - and besides, that would be up to the original content provider.)

Reports, jobs and training opportunities are shown in their original language, as submitted by our sources. But the interface has been translated (the menu items, search bar, footer and most of the tags), which should make accessing the 10% of the content that is in French, and the 7% in Spanish, easier for those who prefer those languages.

French speakers make up a very significant part of the humanitarian community with many French-speaking countries and humanitarian organizations. Translating the interface makes it easier for the French-language content to reach its audience.

Most Spanish content is also on Redhum, another platform powered by OCHA.

We should point out some limitations. Disaster names are not translated, for now. Likewise, only some organization names are translated - those with Spanish variants of their names that are used in Redhum. Translating organization names is complicated by the proliferation of acronyms as well as the official names: OCHA, for example, is OCAH in Spanish, BCAH in French.

Another limitation of the translation is that searching for tags still only works in English. Keying in “Tchad”, for example, won't bring up countries tagged with “Chad”, but the word will be present in most French-language reports relating to the country, so the effect is negligible.

Searching for information about a non-francophone country, however, will bring many more results using, for example, "Japan" rather than "Japon".

This is just the first step. We’re hoping to add Arabic and Chinese versions soon. To improve the mobile site, we are already planning how to translate disaster names and source names.

When we've tested these changes fully on the mobile site, we'd like to make the same changes to the main site.

We always welcome feedback, so please do get in touch.