Eritrea is a Horn of Africa country that faces many challenges in its nation-building efforts. Around 80 percent of its 3.5 million population is believed to be illiterate. The government owned media have a self-acknowledged goal of disseminating development messages, including health and environmental messages, to the Eritrean public. Messages on primary health care, environment, agriculture and other issues are placed in the media daily. Sometimes, experts at the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture prepare these messages. On many occasions, journalists are expected to produce their own messages for regularly appearing programs on the radio. The journalists have to struggle to translate scientific knowledge usually available in English into one of the least standardized local languages, Tigringa. Tigringa is the most widely used Eritrean language that has its own script.

This research will look into the problems of incompetent translation of the original scientific knowledge into Eritrean languages. Basically, the methodology will be a simple comparison of the English and Tigringa versions of the same body of scientific knowledge. A sample of health messages in Tigringa from Eritrean media will be compared with its English counterparts along different categories that include comprehensibility, clarity, conciseness, etc.

The study hypothesizes that lack of journalistic competence in writing the health messages, weak command of English and Tigringa languages, lack of profound understanding of the local Tigringa culture, and harmful habits of direct translations of scientific words into Tigringa are affecting the public communication of health messages in Eritrean media. Production of the health messages could be greatly improved in quality through proper translation. The translation task may be made easier if journalism training in Eritrea takes into consideration results from this study.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Translating science for the illiterate
Journalistic efforts to provide health message in eritrean languages

Yonas Mesfun Asfaha   University of Asmara

Eritrea is a Horn of Africa country that faces many challenges in its nation-building efforts. Around 80 percent of its 3.5 million population is believed to be illiterate. The government owned media have a self-acknowledged goal of disseminating development messages, including health and environmental messages, to the Eritrean public. Messages on primary health care, environment, agriculture and other issues are placed in the media daily. Sometimes, experts at the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture prepare these messages. On many occasions, journalists are expected to produce their own messages for regularly appearing programs on the radio. The journalists have to struggle to translate scientific knowledge usually available in English into one of the least standardized local languages, Tigringa. Tigringa is the most widely used Eritrean language that has its own script.

This research will look into the problems of incompetent translation of the original scientific knowledge into Eritrean languages. Basically, the methodology will be a simple comparison of the English and Tigringa versions of the same body of scientific knowledge. A sample of health messages in Tigringa from Eritrean media will be compared with its English counterparts along different categories that include comprehensibility, clarity, conciseness, etc.

The study hypothesizes that lack of journalistic competence in writing the health messages, weak command of English and Tigringa languages, lack of profound understanding of the local Tigringa culture, and harmful habits of direct translations of scientific words into Tigringa are affecting the public communication of health messages in Eritrean media. Production of the health messages could be greatly improved in quality through proper translation. The translation task may be made easier if journalism training in Eritrea takes into consideration results from this study.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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