Language is continually evolving, and one way it is doing so is by becoming more inclusive. Inclusive language is meant to avoid alienating readers in favour of neutral terms.
Each industry is different, and part of good translation is tailoring your translation to your audience. The larger the segment of the audience you encompass, the more readers will relate to and engage with your content.
Why Use Inclusive Language?
It Makes People Comfortable
There are several advantages of using inclusive language. The first is that is helps people to feel comfortable and appeals to a wider audience. This can increase engagement, which can in turn increase your return on investment.
It Avoids Alienating Your Readers
Using inclusive language also reduces the risk of inadvertently excluding readers.
It’s a Good Look For Your Business – And May Increase It!
It shows that you’re being proactive; that you’re staying current and aware. It also can enlarge your audience by appealing to more readers, which can give your business a boost.
What Are Some of the Challenges of Using Inclusive Language?
Inclusive language can seem daunting at times. Here are some tips that may help.
You Don’t Feel That It’s Necessary or Feel That It’s an Added Expense
Remember that your audience is not a monolithic entity. In other words, your audience, like society, is varied! So while it may not seem necessary to you, it may be quite important to others.
It’s Too Complicated
Relatively simple changes can go a long way. For example, use “they/their” as a singular pronoun in English rather than he or she. This use isn’t new – in fact, it’s been around for centuries.
Another simple tactic is to use plural nouns – for example, change “When the teacher takes a break, he (or she) likes to use the staff room” to “When teachers take breaks, they like to use the staff room.”
It’s Not Always Straightforward to Make the “Right” Choice
Research helps! Your translator can provide you with resources and reasoning behind the choices they make, which will help you to stay up-to-date.
A few helpful resources include the following:
- Conscious Style Guide (English)
- Termium PLUS (English and French)
- Elements of Indigenous Style (English)
- Government of Canada: Inclusive Writing Resources (English and French)
But How Does Inclusive Language Address the Use of Masculine and Feminine, Like in French or Spanish?
While it’s true that French or Spanish has the added element of gendered language, guidelines are out there! In French, for example, the Banque de dépannage linguistique from the Office national de la langue française offers tips and suggestions like the following:
- Use of collective nouns, gender-neutral nouns, and departmental or administrative terms. For example, shift from “étudiants/étudiantes” to “élèves,” a gender-neutral term.
Using Neutral Pronouns
Using neutral pronouns in your communications material is another approach to inclusive language. The Guide de grammaire neutre et inclusive provides a list of common neutral pronouns in French, like iel or ellui.
Key Takeaways: Inclusive Language and Translation
- Society is moving towards more inclusive language, and your business can reflect that through its content.
- Using inclusive language make more people comfortable, avoids alienating readers, and shows that you’re being proactive – which reflects well on your business.
- Several resources exist to help, and more are on their way. A good translator will keep up with the resources and terminology that pertains to their field(s) of expertise and make suggestions accordingly.
Planning to localize content for the Quebec market? We’re here to help. Get in touch to learn how Rossion can support your company’s transition and adapt your industry-specific content to French.
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