Transliteration and Translation
Translation vs Transliteration
Translation tells the meaning of a word from one language to another, such as "Election" and "選舉". Transliteration gives the reader an idea of how a word is pronounced in another language, such as "Carol Ann Desiderio" and "嘉麗安". To an English only reader, the difference is not noticeable, but to Malden's Chinese speaking voters the use of transliteration of proper names is meant to aid in increased voting accessibility.
Due to our growing and changing population, Malden has been translating the common words on election ballots since 2016. This year, the City will also begin transliterating the names of each of the candidates listed on the ballot.
Why is Malden doing this?
On November 30, 2022, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 282 of the Acts of 2022 An Act Relative To The Preparation Of Certain Bilingual Ballots in the City of Malden. The act, brought about by a home rule petition that began in 2021, allows for the process of using transliteration on State, Federal, and Municipal ballots for our Chinese population and went into effect on January 1, 2023. This will make the candidates' name more recognizable to our large Chinese population, enhancing overall readability. Malden joins Boston as the only other city in the Commonwealth to use transliteration ballots. The Municipal Election scheduled for November 7, 2023, will be the first time Malden is utilizing transliteration on their bilingual ballots that are currently written in English and Simplified Chinese.
How is Malden doing this?
The Board of Registrars of Voters met in open session during a several meetings in June and July with their designated translator, Bilingual Elections Coordinator Anna Tse, for presentations of the transliterated names in preparation of the 2023 Municipal Election cycle for the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of Chapter 282 of the Acts of 2022. The Board-approved transliterated names are based on Cantonese pronunciation, the majority spoken by Malden’s Chinese population. Parentheses represent a rough pronunciation for the English reader. Once notified of their transliterated name, the candidates had a seven-day review period during which the candidate could’ve provided written notice to the Board of any modification of the proposed transliteration of their own name or chosen to decline to have their name transliterated on the ballot. Click the picture below to view names that have been chosen by the candidates.