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Monday, December 2, 2013

Professional Translators in trouble

Professional Translators in trouble
When a translator faces death from both sides.  In  a war zone, for soldiers the translator’s work is very important for their lives.  However, who cares for the life of a translator hunted and accused for collaboration?
In fact, the translator who plays an important logistic role is not protected enough.  The charge of treason can be levelled against them from either side of the conflict.  So, it is sometimes either the jail or  death for the same reason, but not for enough reason. 
To see a translator in jail means that there is a translation or interpreting task for them to do.  It happens that a translator is in trouble because of a crime they have committed.  However, to be in prison just because you are a translator for an enemy group, tribe or country is something quite serious.
From the other side, some interpreters and translators are killed because of the task they were performing.  Those who have worked with American forces on lands they occupied faced execution charges from the side of local resistance forces.  In Iraq, a translation company lost around 200 of its employees in one year, a couple of years ago.
As tragedy begets tragedy, some onsite interpreters and translators found themselves victims of side road bombs or direct attacks from rebellions as thee were accompanying army forces.  The hunting of translators who were considered collaborators of the enemy didn’t stop while there is no serious the intervention from the side of many international organisations. 
What remains quite astonishing is that doctors, lawyers, journalists and news reporters are more respected and better protected by international bodies.  The world needs to unite to protect professional interpreters and translators in the same way it does with the above mentioned professionals working in countries of trouble.  The accusation of being a collabo should not be levelled against people who objectively and professionally do their jobs without having to side with either party. The hunting of translators and interpreters at times of war and political upheavals should be stopped.
The USA Army, for example, has more than 14,000 linguists (interpreters, transcribers and translators) working for it to provide their services on the spot.  They read and translate local media and leaflets, participate in the interrogatories of people and soldiers of hostages.  It also employs private agencies and spends huge amounts of money on them.   
Although countries like the USA have started looking for other solutions that may lead to the replacement of human translators, they have not thought of protecting the translators they work for them.  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has started exploring the possibility of automating translators by creating a future robot which, not only translates speech, but also provides an accurate professional translation of the documents it comes across.  This revolutionary project is promoting, it is not likely to replace the smart human mind.  Until this dream is realised with all the anticipated levels of success and failure, the translator remains a condemned and threatened from both sides.

Almiaad Lingua has a team of onsite translators who participate in military mission; Thank God we have experienced no tragedies so far.  It is because we value our staff. 


  1. How does a translator become a collaborator?

  2. I believe translators are not all the same, not all professional...

  3. Anonymous: I think you mean: how can a translator be taken for a collaborator?

  4. I agree that professional language services should be taken more seriously. You are right - translators and interpreters working overseas for military purposes must be given more protection. They are doing this in the services of the country, after all.


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