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On Ethics and Interpreters

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Małgorzata Tryuk

The history of translation and interpreting is above all the history of men, women, and sometimes children, who became translators and interpreters. It is the history of why and how they chose that job, how it affected their lives and work, how they carried out the tasks of translating and interpreting and what consequences their actions had on their families and fellow compatriots. The book presents the lives, loyalties, and identities of interpreters who, either by choice or by force, had to work during wartime, in armed conflict zones, at the trials of war criminals after World War II and in the Nazi concentration camps.
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Chapter 5. Military and Wartime Interpreters

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Chapter 5. Military and Wartime Interpreters

5.1 Interpreters in high risk settings

The intensification of armed conflicts throughout the world, along with the global war on terrorism, has led to an increasing number of situations whereby armed forces, international humanitarian and charity organizations as well as war correspondents require a significant number of both translators and interpreters in order to carry out their tasks. Armed conflicts as natural disasters know no linguistic limits and language barriers make it difficult to deliver emergency and humanitarian aid to those who are in need. This help would be impossible without translators and interpreters. This is why the attention of politicians, military staff, as well as interpreters training centres is focused on the way of how to respond to the constantly growing need of skilled translators and interpreters. At the present time, the demand for translators and interpreters exceeds the market supply, despite oftentimes intense efforts to recruit them on location, mainly from among the local inhabitants, mostly unidentified collaborators – drivers, guides, informants etc. – who know the field, and in particular the local language(s) and dialect(s). The number of professional and trained interpreters and translators whom foreign armed forces or other types of missions bring along is usually insufficient, and in addition sometimes without the required competence to carry out the tasks. At the same time, recruitment of linguistic intermediaries from among the local populations is usually accompanied by two significant risks – the risk of disloyalty by local...

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