Here’s to the Translators

by | Dec 21, 2019 | ICT4D |

My wife grew up on Rugby. I grew up on Hockey. Whenever we talk about either sport, it’s like we are speaking a foreign language. It’s even worse with cricket and baseball. Lots of words are familiar but mean completely different things. So we think we understand but become completely lost in seconds.

HTTPS. Sensitive. FIM. Scans. Antivirus. Breach. Personal. Encryption. Adequate. TLS. Threshold. Masking. End-points. Tokenization. Algorithm. HIPs. Vulnerability. Risk. SFTP. Redaction. AES. Assessments. Penetration tests. And so on.

I can pronounce all the words and know some of the acronyms. However, most are meaningless to me. And for some, the meaning I apply is likely quite different than the meaning a IT Data Security expert would. In fact, she would know all these words and the specific meanings of them.

There is something lovely about how language can make us feel part of a group. Part of the in-crowd. It happens with sports, in clubs, in gangs, and in the work we do. It’s jargon. It’s exclusive. It creates and maintains culture. And it has it’s place.

However, when we write our policies and standards, if we want them to be read, understood, and applied by others. By people ‘not in the club’ then we need to choose different language. Then we need to think about the audience. Then we need to enter their world, understand their language, and translate exclusive jargon into inclusive, embracing language.

And no, this is NOT ‘dumbing’ it down. Far from it. It’s knowing both languages so well that the message, the clichés, the jargon is translated and communicated. It’s caring about and believing in your policies and standards so deeply that you want to invite others into your knowledge because you believe it will benefit them.

The choice is up to us.

This is the role of the translator. A massively undervalued role. A very misunderstood role. And almost always overlooked. But here’s to you. Here’s to you who spend hours (often in the evenings or early mornings) trying to figure out how to translate concepts, ideas into language the audience will understand. You are beautiful, wonderful people. We need more of you.

Photo by Quino Al


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