International aid interpreters face more than their fair share of vulnerability during wartime. But their importance cannot be understated. As one American army major once stated: “With an interpreter, you can command hundreds of Afghan soldiers; with a gun, you can only defend yourself.” Global cooperation efforts also rely on the international development translation services provider so that humanitarian goals can be reached. Here’s how translation for international development works in war zones around the world
Translation For International Development In The Past
In the past, interpreters were considered active soldiers, with both linguistic and military missions, and sometimes referred to as “go-betweens”. They did not receive interpreter training; they were simply polyglots. Client and interpreter most often shared the same nationality. And, when this wasn’t the case, wartime interpreters were able to present themselves as a perfect or near-perfect imitation of a native of their client’s land, an early form of localization services.
Translation For International Development In The Stages Of Conflict
Conflicts are commonly divided into three stages: the preparatory stage, the warfare stage, and the end of hostilities. The first stage includes diplomatic conferences which, as such, require the presence of conference interpreting professionals and translation services for the different parties to be able to understand each other. The warfare stage takes on specialized interpreters who facilitate communication in the throes of military action and with the local population of the occupied geography. The end of hostilities phase uses international development interpreting services in order to conduct international peace negotiations.
International Aid Interpreter: Wartime Protocol
Since the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the army of the United States has been the largest recruiter of conflict and military interpreters. Scholars have observed that, even though protocol stipulates very specific requirements, these interpreters were usually not highly skilled and only had a basic knowledge of the target languages. Scholars also observed that interpreters were typically locals, which negatively affected the sense of trust between client and interpreter and created a thankless situation where interpreters were poorly compensated while taking on a job that put their safety in jeopardy.
Rescuing Conflict-Zone Interpreters
Dangerous situations cannot be avoided in war-torn zones – and international aid interpreters can easily get caught up in the hostilities. In 2021, the Canadian war veterans concentrated forces to help rescue Canadian Forces Afghan interpreters fleeing the Taliban. This effort has been redoubled with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. Canadian veterans are now trying to help their besieged Ukrainian Canadian Forces interpreters make their way back to safety. This new case requires sending supplies, like medical equipment and baby food, and dealing with much heavier action than had been the case in Afghanistan, including shelling, intense combat, and airstrikes.
“We owe it to them,” said one of the Canadian veterans. “They served Canada. We want to serve them as well.”
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