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T HE P ROPER U SE OF AN I NTERPRETER
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  1. THE PROPER USEOF AN INTERPRETER Presented by: Major Danny BoydHQ AFSOC / A2O

  2. OBJECTIVE To understand the importance of utilizing an interpreter properly as well as the basic elements of such utilization

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. OVERVIEW • Proper use of an interpreter will increase mission effectiveness • Definitions • Counterpart Relationship • Verbiage • Interpreter Placement • Prepping the Interpreter • Other Issues

  6. 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

  7. Counterpart Relationship • Eye Contact • Talk to your foreign counterpart… …not to the interpreter

  8. Counterpart Relationship • Use of First Person • More apparent to interpreter, foreign counterpart, and others present • Avoid “abdicating command” • More on this later

  9. 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.

  10. Verbiage • Use of Idioms • Causes interpreter to guess your meaning • Adds an unnecessary step to process

  11. 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”

  12. Interpreter Placement • Should enhance relationship between principals • Occasion Dependent • Formal meeting • Working environment • Dinner chat • Hostile event

  13. Interpreter Placement • Formal Meeting

  14. Interpreter Placement • Working Environment

  15. Interpreter Placement • Working Environment

  16. Interpreter Placement • Working Environment

  17. Interpreter Placement • Dinner Environment

  18. Interpreter Placement • Hostile Event • Intimidation? • Information gathering? • Eye contact still very important

  19. Prepping the Interpreter • List known issues or questions • Legal, religious or other references • Jokes or stories in advance

  20. Stargate™ Film Clip • Who is in charge? • Who do the “foreigners” think is in charge? • What could the main character have done better?

  21. “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?

  22. 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

  23. Terps Gone Wild

  24. Other Issues • Second Guessing the Interpreter or confirming the gist? • A little knowledge can go a long way…in either direction

  25. Other Issues • Military Interpreter or Civilian Contractor? • Consider needs and sensitivity of work • Local? • Will they be debriefed?

  26. 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

  27. Other Issues • Using your Interpreter as a Cultural Guide • Familiar with local customs • Non verbal cues • Language Assistant

  28. 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!

  29. Questions?