Federal government agencies produce translations of a variety of materials, from surveys to websites, with the goal of increasing the reach of our programs and federal data resources. This talk uses survey translation as an illustration of the complexities and potential pitfalls involved in providing resources in multiple languages.
We will review the intricacies of multilingual survey design, give an overview of the literature on survey translation, and we will discuss how to include the end users of our products in the development through pretesting. This talk will also include tips for monolingual speakers of English who manage the translation and pre testing process.
Patricia Goerman leads the Language and Cross-Cultural Research Group in the Center for Behavioral Science Methods at the U.S. Census Bureau. She has 15 years of experience in the development and presentation of multilingual survey instruments, with a focus on Spanish-language materials. Her research interests include questionnaire design and cross-cultural issues in surveys. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Virginia.
Mikelyn Meyers is a sociolinguist with more than 10 years of experience researching the design of linguistically- and culturally-appropriate translated survey materials. She works in the Language and Cross-Cultural Research Group in the Center for Behavioral Science Methods at the U.S. Census Bureau. Her research interests include optimizing internet surveys for speakers of non-English languages, interviewer training on overcoming language barriers, and racial identity in immigrant families. She has a MS in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University.
Kathleen Kephart is a researcher in the Questionnaire Design Evaluation and Research area in the Center for Behavioral Science Methods at the U.S. Census Bureau. She began her career at the Census Bureau in 2009 working on the 2010 Census. She has previously worked in Decennial evaluations and the Demographic survey areas of the U.S. Census Bureau. Her current work and research interests include questionnaire design, evaluation, and usability. She has a MS in Survey Research and Methodology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Survey Translation Resources
- European Social Survey guidelines
- U.S. Census Bureau translation guidelines
- Cross cultural survey guidelines website