How can Language Services help with Language Preservation?

While English continues to enjoy robust growth with the expansion of the internet over the past two decades, rare and indigenous languages continue to experience decline in the number of fluent speakers. Of the more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, only a couple of dozen account for the primary languages spoken by more than half the world’s population.

Indigenous and rare languages provide some of the most vital means for capturing and preserving the cultures of which they are a part. Losing these cultural records necessarily depletes the rich diversity of art, literature, and other forms of cultural expression. Taking time to formalize a language, and then steps to preserve it, can not only celebrate a vital part of a country’s or people’s history, but it can also enrich the future.

At least 2,000 of these rare languages are considered endangered, as fluent speakers number under 1,000. These languages include many Indigenous languages, which are often lost with the aging of fluent speakers. The expansion of online resources in primary languages like Chinese, English, and Spanish can also contribute to the decline of these rare languages.
Language services, including interpretation and translation, can play a vital role in the preservation of rare and disappearing languages. While technology can help with this preservation, so much more is needed. By providing opportunities and resources through community and business support, language services can bring helpful insight into the nuances of the language and vital support for its continued use and preservation. Preservation, in turn, helps to protect the rich cultural resources and history contained in these rare and indigenous languages.

As the 400 Language People, A Foreign Language Service seeks to provide services in a number of rare languages, including Basque (660,000 speakers left), Irish Gaelic (440,000 speakers left), Ojibwe (6,000 speakers left), and Quechua (2,300,000 speakers left). If you cannot find your language on our 400 languages and counting list, please let us know! We would love to grow our resources and to work with you and your organization!

Idioms, Idiomatic Phrases, and the Challenges of Literal Translation

An idiom, loosely understood as a phrase or expression that has a figurative rather than literal meaning, can pose many challenges when it comes to translation. As a saying understood within a certain demographic group, an idiom can loose vitality and nuance when it is rendered into translated form. An experienced translator understands this particular challenge and works hard to render idioms and similar figures of speech in a way that captures both the original expression but also the meaning implied by the words.

Idioms in Cultural Context
Thousands of idioms exist across all languages and people groups, with more than 25,000 idioms occurring in the English language alone. Some idioms, when they were first used, actually had literal meaning. For example, the idiom “barking up the wrong tree”–which means to misunderstand a situation–originally developed in reference to hunting dogs that barked at the wrong tree when pursuing prey. Other idioms reflect a culture’s understanding–or misunderstanding–of a particular topic. The idiom “once in a blue moon,” for example, finds its origins in a misunderstanding of the occurrence and frequency of blue moons, which happen once every three years or so. The phrase, as used today, indicates something that occurs rarely.

Idioms in Contemporary Translation
Idioms hold a unique place in the landscape of a language. Their meaning cannot be derived by merely attempting to add together the meaning of all the words in the phrase. In fact, idioms defy definition through traditional means. To accurately render an idiom in translation, a translator must have an understanding of the culture and communities in which it occurs, as well as an understanding of the idiom’s implied meaning. This makes idioms difficult to translate, because if it is translated word-for word, the meaning will not match the original. Idioms have be treated by a translator as units of vocabulary. Only then, can a translator respond with efficacy to the challenge of rendering an idiom in translation.

Need a highly qualified translator who can adeptly handle idioms and all the other words in-between? Call (844) 813-4242 or email A Foreign Language Service, the 400 Languages people, today for a free quote!

Simultaneous Interpretation, Neural Pathways, and Experienced Interpreters

TED-Ed provides fascinating insight into the complexities surrounding simultaneous interpretation. This form of interpretation usually involves interpreters who wear headphones and sit in a sound booth while providing real-time interpretation to an audience.

the complex craft of simultaneous interpretation
When stepping into a sound booth to provide simultaneous interpretation, an interpreter has not only been preparing for that particular assignment for hours or days, but the interpreter has also been gaining experience for years so as to provide fast and accurate real-time interpretation.

The TED-Ed video not only illustrates the the complex process of simultaneous interpretation, it also shows the incredible hard work of the interpreter. An interpreter devotes considerable time and effort to gain not only mastery of a language, but also understanding of a subject. Over time, this experience actually changes neural pathways in the interpreter’s brain, helping the individual to interpret with greater speed and accuracy. AFLS works with experienced interpreters who are skilled in simultaneous interpretation. Call or email for a quote today!

Why hire a professional interpreter instead of a bilingual acquaintance?

When you need an interpreter, you may think that you do not have time to search for a professional. You may find yourself wanting to turn to a trusted bilingual acquaintance or friend. And, in informal settings, a bilingual individual may be able to translate equitably.

But if you are facing a need for interpretation in a medical, legal, or business situation, you need to hire a qualified professional. You want an interpreter who is well-equipped to meet the challenges and nuances of your situation. Medical interpreters, for example, may be called on to assist with time and health-sensitive diagnosis and treatment concerns. Interpreters in legal and business settings may be handling highly valuable and/ or confidential information.

Whatever your situation, you want to have peace of mind regarding both the ability and the credibility of your interpreter. This is why you want to hire a professional interpreter instead of relying on a bilingual acquaintance or friend. At A Foreign Language Service, we provide interpreters who are able to step into your unique situation and provide highly qualified and expertly personalized interpretation.

Reasons to Hire a Professional Interpreter:

(1). Focused Education and Training: Professional interpreters carry certifications in their areas of specialization, and they may hold professional degrees as well. In addition, professional interpreters are involved in ongoing training to make sure that they are always able to provide accurate interpretation services.

(2). Understanding of Cultural Concerns: Professional interpreters spend considerable time honing their understanding of cultural concerns. They are knowledgeable of the cultural backgrounds of both parties involved. As a result, nuances of usage and expression are not “lost in translation.” Instead, cultural and personal nuances are communicated with respect for and understanding of both parties involved.

(3). Adherence to Professional Standards: Professional interpreters follow professional standards of practice in interpretation settings. This means, for example, that interpreters do not add their own views or perspectives to what is being communicated. They do not guess as to the meaning of oblique phrases, and they do not omit unnecessary words. They can be counted on, as well, to arrive on time, wear appropriate dress, and display courteous manners.

A Foreign Language Service offers professional interpretation services in 400 languages and counting. You can request a personalized quote online or with a toll free call to (844) 813-4242. We look forward to meeting your interpretation needs!

Rethinking the Impossible

Every great achievement in medicine began with a spark of curiosity.

Scientist and clinicians have never stopped asking themselves the great question: “how can we achieve the unachievable?”

From eradicating polio to restoring sight to the blind, we have continuously reshaped the future by rethinking the impossible.

However, the next great advancement in medical science must be bridging the language barrier.


Translating more than just words

Bridging the language gap is about more than just translating words from one language to another.

It is about transforming access to patient care for the most underserved populations in our non-English speaking and deaf communities.

Assisting medical centers in transitioning the healthcare experience for limited English speaking patients has been one of our most ambitious goals here at A Foreign Language Service.

In 2016, it was estimated that a record 64.7 million U.S. residents spoke a foreign language at home, which presents the inability to effectively communicate with these growing populations seeking treatment as perhaps the greatest challenge facing modern medicine.

When the basic ability to communicate is missing between a physician and a patient often the only things that are accurately translated are feelings of confusion and frustration.


Fluent in the future

Forecasting the future in healthcare is quite popular these days.

However, to meet the predicted increase demands for hospital care by

Limited English Proficiency (LEP) patients, front-line doctors and agencies providing on-site translation assistance such as A Foreign Language Service (AFLS) must collaborate.

Helping LEP patients make informed decisions on their healthcare is the shared goal of both the medical community and AFLS.

As waiting rooms continue to fill up with non-English speaking patients, from across the world, AFLS stands alone as the only agency that can provide on-site interpreters who are fluent in over 400 different languages.

Having interpreters available who are fluent in more than one language will allow physicians to offer potentially lifesaving treatment to patients in the future who they were never able to communicate with effectively in the past.