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Off topic: Pentagon Commissions Translation Devices
Thread poster: Rebecca Jowers
Rebecca Jowers  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 1, 2006

An interesting article in this morning's Washington Post...


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/31/AR2006103101246.html


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:27
English to Arabic
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For once, I'm all for the idea! Nov 1, 2006

Just keep interpreters out of the firing line!

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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:27
Spanish to English
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(in)human(e) contact Nov 1, 2006

Rebecca:
Thanks for sharing that article. As someone who has been in the street protesting against our military actions in the Middle East, I have to say it is just one more thing that makes me ashamed to be an American. It is also yet another sign of Donald Rumsfeld's (secretary of defense) mismanagement.

You can't make friends with a handheld electronic communicator, you can't know what the other side's needs are, and you can't have a dialogue.

As professional translators, we all recognize that the Star Trek Universal Translator is science fiction and probably will remain that for centuries to come... After all, everyone has at one time or another experienced a breakdown in communication, even talking in our native tongue to our neighbors!

What we've needed for decades is a better educational system in the US that would train people in the languages and cultures of all the countries of this world, but it ain't happening, and I won't be surprised if it turns out to be too late to undo our tragic errors.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 20:27
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
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hasta la vista baby Nov 1, 2006

in Arab? Just look how far a kid from Steiermark can get with proper hardware and software support...

When GIs came to Germany in 1945, they brought K rations and chocolate and cigarettes. And CARE rations to Slovenia,. my home country, cheddar cheese, flour ... well, it was Gen. Marshall to be concise, but you get the point.

It was much, much more efficient.

Deep in my heart, I do believe in this kind of US of A.

smo

[Edited at 2006-11-01 20:51]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:27
English to Arabic
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Maybe inhuman(e), but better than this... Nov 1, 2006

Patricia Rosas wrote:

You can't make friends with a handheld electronic communicator, you can't know what the other side's needs are, and you can't have a dialogue.



(Results from a very quick web search):

a massive explosion that killed 14 Marines and the unit's Iraqi interpreter, according to witnesses and military...
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/03/AR2005080300377.html

abducted in western Baghdad on Saturday, by kidnappers who killed her Iraqi interpreter, the paper said in a statement calling for her release. ...
www.christiansofiraq.com/translator.html

shot dead in Iraq in March 2003 - was unlawfully ... Mr Lloyd's interpreter was also killed and his cameraman is missing believed ...
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6046950.stm

4 U.S. soldiers, Iraqi interpreter killed by roadside bomb de es it nl. BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) --
press.jrc.it/NewsExplorer/clusteredition/en/20060518,RSS-cnn-392f2b96b9118b4ec720d3fa2964320f.html

A 23-year-old Southfield man was killed in Iraq while serving as an interpreter for US military forces. Family members say Saher Georges died August 29th in ...
www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=5376151

Two Japanese freelance journalists, Shinsuke Hashida, 61, and his nephew Kotaro Ogawa, 33, and their Iraqi interpreter were killed late yesterday in an ...
www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=10470

...and I'm sure there's more.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 20:27
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
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so the point is... Nov 1, 2006

Nesrin wrote:
(Results from a very quick web search):

a massive explosion that killed 14 Marines and the unit's Iraqi interpreter, according to witnesses and military...
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/03/AR2005080300377.html

abducted in western Baghdad on Saturday, by kidnappers who killed her Iraqi interpreter, the paper said in a statement calling for her release. ...
www.christiansofiraq.com/translator.html

.....

...and I'm sure there's more.


there could be one less (i.e. take out the interpreter) per every case? "I'm interpreter, and I want to get OUT"?. What about Peoria, IL national guard boys and girls? What about a whole lot instead of just one dead per case?


It's Iraq and its generic - sound crappy, but wth - human lives. We're not in Cansas anymore, Toto.

smo

PS: Oh btw, where's the civilan casualties...

[Edited at 2006-11-01 22:23]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:27
English to Arabic
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I know what you mean, Vito... Nov 1, 2006

The interpreter is just one, and scores of people are dying on both sides...
And of course the interpreters know what they are letting themselves into, and get paid accordingly.

But anyway, I don't believe that interpreters bring that much humanity and warmth into that terrible situation, so if a small (flawed) gadget, can take over, then so be it...

That's my humble opinion.

[Edited at 2006-11-01 23:19]


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Andres Pacheco  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:27
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
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Electronic interpreters Nov 1, 2006

Going back to the question of the devices, would it be possible to have little boxes which would reproduce the nuances in the originals? That is, I'd think, the main question to ask...

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:27
English to French
+ ...
I don't think that would be possible Nov 2, 2006

What we are basically talking about is an electronic dictionary. They will never get to establish contact using just that, if you know what I mean.

How about taking the time to teach the army the most basic expressions they will need to use - a few days training. It would not cost more to teach 10 soldiers to say the basic stuff than to buy one of those gadgets. And once they have the strict basics, maybe they know just enough to pick up the rest as they go. Hasn't anybody thought of that?

I think it's a shame that the translators made so far were so crappy. I don't understand how they can make something so important to such a mediocre standard. Beats me!

But if they are unable to find better, let'em use it. It would be nice of the army to try to learn the basics of those people's language, though...


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:27
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Teach everyone English? Nov 3, 2006

Everyone else is learning it, why not the Iraquis? It is the de facto lingua franca of the world and would help their economy immensely in allowing them to speak with international businessman. It also might save their lives when a nervous monolingual soldier pays them a visit.

On the other hand, it would be nice if the soldiers would raise their level of the local language in order to be more effective communicating.

As someone on this thread mentioned, giving out gifts is a great way of communicating.


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