Translation and Public Policy

Government offices across the world are facing translation and interpretation issues on a far more regular basis. Shifting populations and immigration have forced the national government, local municipalities, and school districts to deal with language gaps.

Some recent examples of how language-related issues have crept to the top of the news heap are the translation fees related to the UK Census and translation requirements from the recent US Health Care Reform. Many school districts across the US are also facing financial issues related to the economy and decreased tax revenues further crunching budgets related to translation services for parents of children that do not speak English.

Higher levels of scrutiny over government budgets have brought increased attention to translation and interpretation costs. As with almost any issue, you will find a wide variance in public opinion. Some say that this is a required cost of globalization and others say this is a complete waste of money.

I think there may be some truth to both opinions. Government agencies should work at streamlining communications with their constituents that don’t speak the language of their host country but I also believe that as the world gets smaller we have to find cost-effective ways to do interact and do business together. There is no turning back to the xenophobic ways of the past. The global economy is here to stay.


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