After Van earthquake: Community Interpreting

Last Sunday, there was a big earthquake in the Eastern part of Turkey. The name of the city is Van and the earthquake’s magnititude was 7.2. The fact that it is already winter there makes everything harder. Many buildings collapsed and people are dying every moment (more than 500 people now). Great numbers of people and rescue teams are there but they have a problem: communication. There is a high Kurdish population in Van and most of them do not know Turkish; however, rescue teams do not know Kurdish. This is a very big problem and this is where we need community interpreters whose language pair is at least Turkish-Kurdish. I also have ‘community interpreting’ course in my university. Here is an explanatory article about community interpreting by Margareta Bowen. I have quoted the parts I find interesting. For the rest of it, you can click the link at the bottom:

” ‘The community interpreter has a very different role and responsibilities from a commercial or conference interpreter. She is responsible for enabling professional and client, with very different backgrounds and perceptions and in an unequal relationship of power and knowledge, to communicate to their mutual satisfaction.’ (Shackman, Jane. The Right to be Understood: A Handbook on Working With, Employing and Training Community Interpreters. 1984, Cambridge, England, National Extension College.)

The settings are hospitals and doctors’ offices, schools, the various offices dealing with immigrant matters, housing and social security, and police stations. Compared to conference interpreting, the range of languages needed is enormous, even when compared to what is in store for the European Union. Moreover, the language level may be quite different from that of a diplomatic conference: regional variations and dialects can be a problem.

Some languages dominate: Spanish in the US, Turkish in Germany and Austria, Italian and Greek in Australia. But the Health Care Interpreting Services office of the Heartland Alliance in Chicago at present has demand for 28 languages.

Interest in this kind of interpreting, however, has grown by leaps and bounds. Last year the International Conference on University Institutes for Translation and Interpretation (CIUTI) decided that institutes do not have to teach conference interpreting exclusively in order to become a member. They may offer any of a range of interpreter specializations, including community interpreting. Read more…

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For other types of interpreting, click here.


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