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Do We Have to Tweet in Both Official Languages?


s we prepare for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the eyes of the world will be focused on sport and Canadians will be cheering on our athletes at every opportunity. During a webinar with sport system organizations hosted by the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC), Martin Boileau, Director General for Sport Canada spoke to the importance of national sport system organizations leading by example and creating welcoming environments for participants, fans and Canadians in both Official Languages (OL). It stands to reason this also includes social media, which plays a large role in the communication strategies of sport organizations. The webinar, entitled “5 Creative Ways to Incorporate Official Languages on a Sport Organization Budget” provides useful tools and templates that organizations can use to incorporate OL into their regular activities. From sample bilingual voicemail scripts and email signatures to lexicons and databases for translation, helpful resources are listed at Being sensitive to concerns in the sport community surrounding quality and cost of translation, the webinar also provides cautious warnings surrounding the accuracy of online translation tools such as Google Translate. Examples of awkward and even wrong translations,

for example changing [snowboard] “riders” to “cyclists” or genders from “his” to “her”, demonstrate that these tools are unreliable. Suggestions to assist with the quality and cost of translation include using in-house staff, provincial counterparts, student translation services, or available grants from Official Languages. So what about social media? Do sport organizations have to tweet in both Official Languages? Or is perhaps the question, “Are sport system organizations supposed to tweet in both Official Languages?” The answer to both is “yes”. Jaimie Earley, Acting Manager for Official Languages at Sport

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Canada, explains that sport system organizations do have to tweet in both languages however they are sensitive to the challenges because of the dynamic, limited character space and real-time nature of communicating using Twitter. Various options for bilingual tweeting exist and are used successfully including: • Two Twitter accounts, one for English and one for French and tweeting simultaneously; • One Twitter account and sending a tweet in one language followed by a tweet in the other language; • One Twitter account and keeping the bilingual tweet to within the 140 character limit; • One Twitter account and attaching an image with a bilingual message; • Using emoticons to save space and characters. Ms Earley further commented that an added benefit to tweeting in both official languages is the increased potential for retweeting, reach and network influence, because government branches such as Sport Canada and the Ministers, who have large national followers, must tweet or retweet in both official languages.


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