COVID-19 Translated: An Account of the Translation and Multilingual Practices Enacted in Hong Kong’s Linguistic Landscape during the Pandemic Crisis Communication

Research output: Chapter in book / Conference proceedingChapter in an edited book (as author)Academic researchpeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a dramatic upsurge in medical and scientific research. However, despite the importance of language in communicating medical and scientific knowledge to people from different sociocultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds, the role of translation and multilingual communication remains significantly underexplored. Against a backdrop of globalization, our world is increasingly diverse and multilingual, where people might not be able to understand adequately the message delivered only in the official language(s). Arguably, how well public health information (e.g. on mask wearing, social distancing, and vaccination) is communicated multilingually can make or break a place’s anti-COVID efforts. This highlights the crucial need of translation and multilingual communication at times of public health crises as a matter of great urgency. As a former British colony and now a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong is a major global financial centre in East Asia. Whilst ethnic Chinese Hongkongers make up the majority of Hong Kong’s population, for historical and socioeconomic reasons, immigrants and workers from around the world (e.g. India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand) can be found in the SAR. Hong Kong, therefore, represents an exhilarating case of micro-cosmopolitanism and a society of superdiversity (Piller 2018; Vertovec 2007). Undoubtedly, as a major global city, Hong Kong serves as a site par excellence for studying how various multilingual resources notably including translation have been mobilized to facilitate communication during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Through examining various multilingual resources enacted in Hong Kong’s multilingual landscape, this study takes a general descriptive account of the top-down and bottom-up translation and multilingual communication practices in the SAR on various platforms (e.g. the traditional physical linguistic landscape and also the virtual and even audio-scape).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslation and Interpreting in the Age of COVID-19
EditorsKanglong Liu, Andrew Kay-fan Cheung
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISBN (Electronic)978-981-19-6680-4
ISBN (Print)978-981-19-6679-8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

NameCorpora and Intercultural Studies
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN (Print)2510-4802
ISSN (Electronic)2510-4810


  • Covid-19
  • Multilingual crisis communication
  • Translation
  • Linguistic landscape
  • Hong Kong


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