Sunday, March 20, 2011

Multilingual Service For the Mega-Earthquake in Japan -2

On Friday, March 4, an earthquake with a magnitude of at least 9.0 hit northern Honshu Island, Japan, around 3:00 p.m. local time in Japan. A massive tsunami followed this major earthquake. The number of casualties and actual damage has not yet been determined. Although several news media announcements have provided some early damage estimates, I would rather not mention any specific figures until more is known. I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy for the people who lost their lives, their families, and their homes in this natural disaster. I was quite fortunate to confirm the safety of my mother living in Tokyo. She also confirmed that there were no casualties and only minimal property damage among my family or friends.

Cell phone and email services were unable to handle the large increase in use and became overwhelmed in the aftermath of the disaster. Social network sites played a major role in obtaining updated information on this tragedy. My family and I could watch CNN in English, China Central TV News in Chinese, and NHK in Japanese. However, these television stations were only interested in broadcasting information about their own nationalities. NHK focuses on Japanese. CCTV only broadcasts about Chinese living in Japan or visiting Japan at that time. CNN talks about Americans.

While it is understandable for Japanese news media to focus on the safety of their own citizens, I believe we should not ignore the safety of other nationalities living in the disaster area or of foreign visitors. Their family and friends must have been frustrated by the lack of information available in their languages.

I learned about this service by accident. I contacted my translator friend on another work and found she was forming this service. I took part in this service adding Chinese and Spanish posts. They broadcast the most updated information concerning the earthquake and tsunami in many different languages. They are volunteer service of foreign language translators in Japan, and my friend played a leading role in forming this service. Some of the languages provided by the service include English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and more. I was fortunate enough to connect with this service and advertise its benefits using other social network services and my own blogs. The service broadcasts updated information about the aftermath, including information regarding damages, causalities, rescue efforts, and more. Let me show you how the service works:

- You can browse the posts in different languages which show or link to updated information on the disaster in your language.

- If you have specific information you need, post the request in the group in your language. A translator will pick up your post and respond to your request.

- The translation work in relation to this disaster is free, since the group is formed by volunteer translators.

If you hope to access to the detail of this service and the link, please refer to my blog post on March 12, entitled "Translation Help for the People in Need on Mega Earthquakes in Japan.", as the link provided below:
Anyone who needs his/her urgent message to be translated, in relation to the recent mega earthquake in Japan, please use #honyaquake found in twitter.


任何人需要翻译他/她的紧急消息,与最近的日本大型地震相关,请使用 #honyaquake

Cualquier persona que necesita que su mensaje urgente sea traducido, en cuanto al enorme terremoto reciente en Japón, por favor use el #honyaquake
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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw .. a master of languages I do hope you and your wife's skills are made us of .. there are so many lost, or just devastated by this human tragedy .. words cannot say ..

Peace and blessings to all .. with thoughts - Hilary

Shaw said...

Dear Hilary,

Thank you for your comment. Sorry for not responding earlier. We hoped to do something, anything that we could do. Like many others.

Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link