Part IV—Language and Interpretation
Communication is particularly challenging when we must work face to face with people whose
language we do not understand. Today the numbers of such people are increasing. They are our
employees, our customers, and consumers in business. They are our patients and staff in health-
care delivery. They are the children in our schools and their parents. They are the clients of our
social systems and our public safety and emergency services.
Enter the interpreter of the spoken word and the translator of written text. While the translator
might have the time to research, reflect, and edit as he or she recasts the written word in another
linguistic and cultural context, the interpreter must make these decisions on the spot. They can
involve life and death choices.
The activities we have chosen for this section are not for professional interpreters as much as for
those of us who can benefit from understanding what is involved in interpretation. These activi-
ties will help us recognize when we need such services and understand the nature of the chal-
lenge they face in order to use them effectively. In addition, they help us understand, empathize
with, and support the person who has difficulty with the language in which he or she must work
or seek services.