Interpreting: a service with responsibility
The legend of the Tower of Babel describes a time when one human language became many.
It is one of the great mythical tales. In Western traditions, the story of confusion caused by language diversity comes from the Book of Genesis in the Torah, the Old Testament of the Bible.
Similar stories exist in the traditions of many other civilisations; such as the Qur’an, the ancient Greek myth of Hermes, the Sumerian epic “Enmerkar and the Lord of Arrata” and in multiple tribal cultures like the Maidu Indians of California, the Tlingit of Alaska, the Wasania tribe in Kenya and the K’iche’ Maya in Guatemala.
The universal story of the Tower of Babel symbolically tells the tale of the beginnings of cultural differences among humanity and the origin of languages. Today, the earth’s people speak somewhere between 6,000-7,000 living languages, making worldwide communication difficult at best, and marginalizing those who do not speak one of the more common languages.
The seven most common – English, Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, French, Spanish and Russian – account for the majority of the native speakers from the world’s population.
These dominant languages from the world’s economically-dominant societies, are increasingly crowding out minority languages and threatening their survival.
Communication differences are one of the most fruitful causes of dislike and distrust between nations, which are kept apart by their inability to understand each other’s language more than by any other reason.
The universal story of the Tower of Babel tells the tale of the beginnings of cultural differences.
Fereshteh Hooshmand, certified Interpreter
To manage issues of trust, where trust is fragile, translators and interpreters need to apply confidentiality, neutrality and be non-judgemental in their work. The code of ethics provides the support and guidance to assist practitioners with their conduct in professional settings.
Interpreters and translators can make or break relationships between two sides. Their role is vital. It’s important to be respectful of differences; cultures, races, religions, abilities, disabilities and genders.
The world will continue to feel the need for interpreters and translators, as a means of communication. It’s a service with a huge responsibility.
Fereshteh Hooshmand is NAATI certified Persian interpreter
Fere studied in England and graduated from London University. After many years of working for the Human Rights, Equal Opportunity Commission, she set up her own business, “Fere Hooshmand Mediation Services”. She is an interpreter working for several language service providers.
Fere loves writing and is the author of “Manijeh, not only a change of name”, published by George Ronald, UK publishing and is writing her second book; “Bijan, son of a child.” Her favorite book is “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor E. Frank.