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T HE P ROPER U SE OF AN I NTERPRETER. Presented by: Major Danny Boyd HQ AFSOC / A2O. OBJECTIVE. To understand the importance of utilizing an interpreter properly as well as the basic elements of such utilization. Why an Interpreter Briefing?. Where are we sending our Troops?.

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T he p roper u se of an i nterpreter l.jpg

THE PROPER USEOF AN INTERPRETER

Presented by:

Major Danny BoydHQ AFSOC / A2O


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OBJECTIVE

To understand the importance of

utilizing an interpreter properly as

well as the basic elements of such

utilization


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Why an Interpreter Briefing?

Where are we sending our Troops?

Georgia

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Kosovo

Kyrgyzstan

Kazakhstan

Armenia

Azerbaijan

Russia

Ukraine

The Straits of Gibraltar

Chad

Algeria

Morocco

Nigeria

Tunisia

Senegal

Ghana

Niger

Mauritania

Mali

Thailand

Philippines

Laos

Viet Nam

Cambodia

Colombia

Guatemala

Honduras

Brazil

Haiti


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Why an Interpreter Briefing?

Your Interpreter is a reflection of You!

Is he or she prejudiced against your counterpart? Then as far as they are concerned, so are you.

They may not like your Terp but they won’t like you either.


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OVERVIEW

  • Proper use of an interpreter will increase mission effectiveness

    • Definitions

    • Counterpart Relationship

    • Verbiage

    • Interpreter Placement

    • Prepping the Interpreter

    • Other Issues


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Definitions

  • Linguistics

    • The study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language

  • Translate

    • To turn into one's own or another language, often in written form

  • Interpret

    • To explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms


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Counterpart Relationship

  • Eye Contact

    • Talk to your foreign counterpart…

      …not to the interpreter


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Counterpart Relationship

  • Use of First Person

    • More apparent to interpreter, foreign counterpart, and others present

    • Avoid “abdicating command”

      • More on this later


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Verbiage

  • Short, Simple Sentence

    • Enables entire idea to be expressed

    • Interpreter can manage more easily

      You may want to have your say, but if the

      other guy doesn’t hear it – it didn’t

      happen.


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Verbiage

  • Use of Idioms

    • Causes interpreter to guess your meaning

    • Adds an unnecessary step to process


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Verbiage

Exercise:

Translate from English to English:

  • “Beggars can’t be choosers”

  • “…not a snowball’s chance in Hell”

  • “That would take a month of Sundays”

  • “Better late than never”

  • ASAP vs. “As soon as possible”


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Interpreter Placement

  • Should enhance relationship between principals

  • Occasion Dependent

    • Formal meeting

    • Working environment

    • Dinner chat

    • Hostile event


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Interpreter Placement

  • Formal Meeting


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Interpreter Placement

  • Working Environment


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Interpreter Placement

  • Working Environment


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Interpreter Placement

  • Working Environment


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Interpreter Placement

  • Dinner Environment


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Interpreter Placement

  • Hostile Event

    • Intimidation?

    • Information gathering?

    • Eye contact still very important


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Prepping the Interpreter

  • List known issues or questions

  • Legal, religious or other references

  • Jokes or stories in advance


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Stargate™ Film Clip

  • Who is in charge?

  • Who do the “foreigners” think is in charge?

  • What could the main character have done better?


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“You’re the Linguist…”

  • Who is supposed to be in charge?

  • Who do the “foreigners” think is in charge?

  • What could the main character have done to maintain better control?


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Terps Gone Wild

If you give the Terp too much autonomy

- They may inflate the importance of their position… to themselves and others

- They could unwittingly take over control of the mission



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Other Issues

  • Second Guessing the Interpreter or confirming the gist?

    • A little knowledge can go a long way…in either direction


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Other Issues

  • Military Interpreter or Civilian Contractor?

    • Consider needs and sensitivity of work

      • Local?

        • Will they be debriefed?


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Other Issues

  • Be mindful of Terp’s workload

    • A dinner break for you is still work for the Terp

    • A day off at the Museum or Circus?

      • Even more work for the Terp


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Other Issues

  • Using your Interpreter as a Cultural Guide

    • Familiar with local customs

    • Non verbal cues

    • Language Assistant


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Summary

  • If you do nothing else…

    • Meet with your Terp before working with him/her

      • Give as much ‘heads-up’ as possible

        • Questions, stories, jokes etc…

    • Talk to your Counterpart not the Terp

      • Eye Contact

      • First Person

    • Keep it clear and concise

      • Gets the whole idea across

      • Avoids ambiguity

  • Remember: your interpreter is a reflection of you!



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