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Have you ever been stuck with something important to say, but been unable to say it because you didn’t speak the language?
In the past we've said that translators are superheroes, and indeed they deserve their props, but we cannot overlook the importance of interpreters when it comes to global communication. Interpreters are world champions that every day help us communicate beyond language divides.
Depending on how you look at it there are somewhere between 6,500 and 7,000 languages and dialects in the world. Our world is ever shrinking, which only increases the chances that we will encounter speakers of another language. Interpreters turn frustration into communication by helping us seamlessly converse with speakers of all the world's languages.
Read on for just a few reasons why I think interpreters are world champions.
Take a look at the labels of anything that has been built recently. It is rare to find something produced in just one country. Even when items are made in one country, it is typically of parts from beyond borders and may be built by speakers of many different languages. With many modern organizations, headquarters are in one country, suppliers in another, manufacturing in another and sales and distribution in still another. When these groups come together to discuss processes and logistics they rely on interpreters to help them communicate.
At manufacturing plants, construction sites and factories around the world interpreters are called on to help with multilingual trainings, site inspections, factory tours, safety meetings, directions and all other points of contact.
On a larger scale, interpreters are there to help build some of the world's biggest buildings and construction projects. In places like Shanghai, New York City and Dubai are some of the world’s tallest buildings. To construct these buildings involved hiring architects, engineers and constructions teams from all over the planet. When these teams meet to discuss plans, interpreters are there to ensure that everyone is understood regardless of language.
Whether it is the design and build of skyscrapers or factories, or if it is manufactured products or medical devices, interpreters support the languages needed to help build our world.
In this global economy, interpreters champion some of the world's best products and services. Global organizations require customer service to support their products and services. Whether it is at home or abroad, companies must communicate with their customers and clients in the language they understand. When customers call they want to be immediately understood no matter what language they speak. International companies employ multilingual call centers, but when they encounter callers who speak languages they can't support, companies often rely on on-demand phone interpreters to bridge the language gaps to keep their multilingual customers and clients satisfied.
Interpreters provide an invaluable service to customer support centers by helping them to communicate with customers in multiple languages at any time.
Have you ever been caught in a situation where you couldn't communicate with someone due to a language barrier? Traveling around the world, I can personally attest to how beautiful it sounds to encounter someone who speaks my language after weeks of struggling to get by in local dialects. Even more refreshing is finding someone who commands both your native language and the local language with equal ease, who interprets for you so that you don't have to struggle to be understood.
Escort interpreters facilitate world travel by enabling tourists and business travelers to navigate languages, cultures and locales.
Dubai recently debuted the world's largest airport, bringing travelers from across the globe. Just building that airport was a feat that required lots of interpreting, but now the work of interpreters really begins. Interpreters will be called on throughout that airport and across the globe to render messages into all the world’s languages.
Interpreters are world champions that make global travel go smoothly.
Clinical studies take place around the globe and involve speakers of many of the world's languages. Often when conducting a study, research organizations don't have the luxury of choosing participants of just one language group. In order for the study to be valid, interpreters must ensure that speakers of all languages both understand and are understood. Interpreters help researchers communicate with study participants to exchange critical research data, which helps research organizations better understand and cure the world's diseases.
Beyond clinical research, interpreters also champion medical treatments. I think of organizations like the Gates Malaria Foundation, the World Health Organization and others that work to eradicate diseases worldwide. These healthcare organizations span the globe and work with speakers in many languages and dialects. When healthcare workers interview patients and administer treatments, interpreters are there to convey essential health information. Often the success of whether a disease is eradicated or patients are cured depends upon the quality of the interpreters that deliver the information to patients.
In countless companies and classrooms, educational institutions and conferences—wherever two people who speak different languages have information to transfer—interpreters are called upon to render that information into language that is understood by both parties.
At larger conferences, simultaneous interpreters may broadcast the message into multiple languages in real time while the presenter is speaking to multilingual conference attendees. In smaller settings, whisper interpreters may perform a similar function for smaller groups of people who want to learn. During one-on-one trainings, consecutive interpreters may be called on to convey information between educators and learners. Regardless of the interpreting style, interpreters play a crucial role in helping to transfer information across languages to educate our world.
The world is filled with rules and regulations that order our society, keep us safe, uphold processes and protect boundaries. When disputes arise or negotiations must be settled by speakers of different languages, interpreters are called on to represent what is expressed in all languages involved in an ethical and fair way to uphold the laws. Whether it is interpreting for the court and legal systems or for national and international regulatory bodies, interpreters champion the ethics and standards that keep our world orderly.
Every day in hospitals and doctors' offices, pharmacies and clinics, interpreters render vital information into the languages of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patients and their families.
A good friend of mine is Deaf and recently almost died due to a lack of interpreters. She was diagnosed with diabetes, but her doctor never used an interpreter to inform her, so my friend did not know she had to change her diet. She continued to eat her regular diet and got extremely sick. When her family noticed that something was wrong, they took her to a hospital emergency room where again there were no interpreters. My friend almost died and was in the Critical Care Unit for days. Although she was given care for her physical needs, the hospital staff and social workers did not call any interpreters, and ultimately she was sent home without being educated on how to manage her condition. The lack of interpreters almost cost my friend her life, and she was one of the lucky ones.
Sadly, similar situations happen time and again with speakers of all the world's languages, and many of them do die due to lack of interpreters. In many instances having a qualified professional interpreter can mean the difference between life and death.
The United States is the most linguistically diverse country on the planet. In this country you can encounter speakers of all the world's languages. The same can be said for pharmacists who fill prescriptions. What happens when pharmacists dispense drugs to patients who do not speak their language? On-demand phone interpreters support pharmacists and patients by allowing them to immediately communicate medication information, helping non-English speaking patients to understand their prescription regimens. These interpreters help to boost medication adherence, which has been shown to save lives.
When it comes to medical care, interpreters are champions that advocate for speakers of all languages to connect them with the healthcare and medical information they require.
Whether it's for business and commerce, for industry, travel or education or for medical and healthcare, interpreters allow you to speak in one language while being understood in others. Interpreters perform an important function helping us to seamlessly communicate in all the world's languages.
Interpreters may not seem like world champions until you are stuck in a situation where an interpreter bridges the divide to allow you to complete your business, communicate vital information and even save lives. The next time you find yourself struggling to speak beyond a language barrier, call and thank an interpreter for being your world champion.
How has an interpreter been your champion? If you are an interpreter, how have you championed those you interpret for? Please share your stories on how interpreters are world champions in our comments section below. And as always, please like and share this blog socially.
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