The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea are almost here. While the preparations for such a massive and exciting global event are always extensive, one of the largest hurdles organizers and attendees have to clear is the language barrier. Because the Olympic Games bring together participants from all over the globe, it doesn't matter where the games are centralized -- language barriers are bound to exist at each and every Olympic Games.
Fortunately, the organizers know this and have gone to great lengths to ensure that the impact of language barriers can be minimized at the upcoming winter games.
The Official Languages of the 2018 Winter Games
Regardless of where the Olympic Games take place, the committees have three official languages. The first two are traditionally English and French. The third is assigned based on where the Olympics are taking place at any given time. In 2018's PyeongChang games, that's Korean.
Korean is spoken in both South and North Korea, and by upwards of 80 million people around the world. At this celebration of the Olympics, as is true at all the Olympic games, interpreters will be integrated into the Olympic staff to ensure the games remain streamlined and accessible for all attendees and participants.
The Inclusion of Korean Branding Elements
Wherever Korean writing needs to be presented, attendees will see the Hangul Script. The script is ancient and beautiful, and one of the largest inspirations for many of the branding elements at the 2018 Winter Games.
This is immediately present in the emblem for the games, which features a unique representation of two Hangul letters: ㅍ (p) and ㅊ (ch). These letters form the foundational sounds of “PyeonChang."
The Olympic website also says that the emblem, "combines the image of ice and snow, winter sports stars (athletes), and people from all over the world, coming together in PyeongChang where heaven meets earth."
The Importance of Social Media
While it's not something many people think of when they imagine translation, social media is critical for the Olympic teams. Olympic teams are comprised of a diverse group of athletes, and many of their fans have nowhere else to connect other than social media. Because of this, translation within social media has been considered an essential part of fan engagement.
Case Study: The Olympic Channel, which broadcasts news regarding the Olympic Games has social media accounts in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean.
Rather than translating each post intended for English speakers, every language account is tailored to it's audience with varying content based on the language they speak.
Global Volunteer Recruitment
While the Olympic committee staffs a number of employees whose jobs focus on accessibility and reducing language barriers, PyeongChang has also issued an extensive global request for volunteers.
The projected 22,400 volunteers will be brought on to the committee to meet tasks ranging from medical services to language services. All volunteers will be trained and provided with uniforms, meals, insurance and similar benefits.
The Translation Apps of the Winter Games
With about 35,000 spectators and thousands of participants daily, it's obvious that language barriers can and will exist. As such, the Olympic Committee and a handful of South Korean tech firms have created Translation Apps specifically for the Games.
One of the most prominent is called Genie Talk and can translate Korean, English, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, French, Arabic and Russian. It will be available to athletes participating in the 2018 winter games.
The Winter Olympic Games: Accessible for Everyone
These 2018 Winter Olympics will be some of the most important games to take place in global culture in some time. When participants and spectators work together to overcome language barriers, they're also more accessible and exciting for everyone involved.