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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 06:34 AM
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Lost in translation

An Iraqi interpreter, left, translates a conversation between an Iraqi National Police officer and U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. American troops say interpreters English skills in Iraq have been uneven, leading to misunderstandings and hampering a mission that is shifting more to working with Iraqis on reconstruction efforts.

Lost in translation
By Heath Druzin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, December 5, 2008

BAGHDAD An Iraqi man talking to an American soldier struggles to find the right word before giving up.

"Im sorry," he says. "My English is not very good."

It would be an unremarkable blip in the conversation, except the Iraqi is an interpreter working for the U.S. military.

American troops across Iraq say interpreters often have trouble with even basic English. Dozens of interpreters across Iraq demonstrate uneven language skills.

Interpreters are playing a central role as the U.S. military shifts its focus from fighting to reconstruction and relies heavily on face-to-face talks with everyday Iraqis and local leaders. This street-level diplomacy almost always involves one of the thousands of linguists who work with American troops.

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