Communicating Science In Another Language

A while ago, I was catching up on a TV show on Toggle (Online service that is provided by Mediacorp to viewing their programmes). This Programme  is titled- Body SOS Season 3 小毛病 大问题 3. The intent of this programme, in my opinion, is introduce different illness or diseases to the audience. They would invite doctors and Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) physicians to discuss about the illness or disease and a panel of guest artistes will share their own personal experience and questions about the topic for that day.

Title of the Programme: Body SOS

In this trilogy episodes that I was watching, a doctor who was specialized in cancer was invited to speak about cancer. In this episode 42, the doctor was introducing the various type of plastics (those triangles with the numbers) and their properties. He went on to explain further under their suitability for reusing and how they may be carcinogenic.

types of platics
Various types of plastics with their representing number usually found on the base of them.
Correct Ways of using PET: 1) do not always recycle 2) do not place it in the car under the sun 3) do not use it to contain alcohol 4) do not use it to contain oil
Usage of High-density Polyethylene (HDPE): plastic bag, cleaning agents and fruit juice bottles and also the high temperatures they can withstand

It was very enriching and I am now more aware of the plastics that I have been using daily. Wait a minute….this programme gave me another insight about science communication! Language! Never did i think that when I communicate science, it can be another language,it needs to be another language. I always think of what are the best strategies or platforms or the background of audience to communicate science. On the other hand, if we are able to understand the culture and language of the audience, it may be more advantageous as we may be able to engage and relate to the audience better. Misconceptions about science of the audience may due to their beliefs in their culture. Therefore, if science communicators have known the background may help to pass on the up to date information. This would mean that people who do not understand English can now access the information.

Though the doctor explain in Mandarin most of the time even for the name of the chemical substances, there were still instances that he had to use English for certain chemicals despite they can be in named in Chinese. I think this is not important after all, the consideration, in my opinion, were to pass on the main idea of why and how plastics can cause  cancer in a simple and easy to understand way. Sometimes, the scientific terms in English could be more commonly used than in Chinese. For example, DNA versus 脱氧核糖核酸.

Doctor explaining that HNE (4-Hydroxynoneal) cause cancer by damaging the DNA in the large intestine.

This programme puts in great effort in simplifying the technical terms and jargon, keeping the explanation concise and easy to understand. It would state  and recap the main points after the doctor explained. Kudos to this BODY SOS! No wonder it can have season 4. 🙂

You can catch this programme at the following  link.


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