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Bridging the gap

25th August 2021

Anne Woolmer

Afghan interpreters

An interpreter is a bridge.  Without the bridge, how can those on one side of the river know what’s going on on the other side?

On one side, one language is spoken; on the other a different one – the Passage of Understanding between the two may be crossed only by using the bridge.

A bridge, as we all know is a huge feat of engineering, taking years of expertise to complete.

But, once finished it provides a seamless link between the two shores.

The interpreter is a similar expert, with years of training in understanding the message sent out by one side, in one language, and conveying it to the other side seamlessly in another.

It is not part of his or her remit to change any part of the message – the messenger is totally neutral but also loyal to the meaning each side wishes to communicate.

This is what Afghan interpreters have been doing for more than 20 years to help understanding between speaker and listener. They have been loyal to the message whichever side it came from – regardless of their own feelings – and loyal to those who have employed them.

Now it’s time for their employers to be loyal to them.

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