Covid-19: History’s Biggest Translation Challenge

A devastating worldwide crisis, Covid-19 has been called ‘history’s biggest translation challenge‘ (Wired Magazine). From social distancing to herd immunity, the pandemic has introduced new coinings and rarely used or specialist terms into our daily lexicon.  Likewise, we have seen the generation of a wealth of new information to help steer the public safely through Covid-19. And by necessity, much of this information requires translation into multiple languages.


The ‘new normal’

Individuals and companies alike are now getting to grips with our new normality. Some are figuring out a new way to work; some are pivoting the focus of their business. Think about the gin distilleries producing hand sanitiser or sit-in restaurants providing takeaway food. Translation companies are no exception and play a significant part in helping companies with this transition.
The impact of Covid-19 is fluctuating workloads and a change of direction or diversion from our normal areas of expertise. In my case, we have been adapting or editing already translated material to suit new regulations, procedures, and measures. Moreover, we have have also been translating unprecedented documentation to help the public safely navigate this Brave New World.
A few of our work examples include the translation of rules and regulations of travel and hotel cancellation policies, social distancing measures for a factory, operations checklists for engineers, eye hygiene instructions, stress management advice during a pandemic, furlough documents, etc.


It happens that two key aspects to working during a pandemic are organisation and swift decision-making. Likewise, quick turnaround times are more important than ever, so that clients can get information to their customers without delay. Thankfully, translators are used to working to tight deadlines and are no strangers to early mornings or late nights.

Understanding and Compassion

Most importantly, this pandemic has called for us all to show more compassion towards our friends, neighbours and clients, too. In an attempt to do so, we regularly check in with our clients. In addition, we quickly set-up advance booking forms and established special rates for Covid-19 communications. Moreover, staying abreast of the ongoing developments in Europe is still proving key to understanding the business challenges and obstacles our clients face. Finally, a flexible attitude towards problems has served us and our clients well.


In conclusion, a willingness to readily adapt to these challenges has helped us to continue providing translated communications between our clients and their overseas partners during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the coming weeks, we hope to return to our office full time and travel again. For now, we continue to safely liaise with our clients via Zoom and email.


Christina Allen – Owner

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