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Interprétation dans les zones de conflits et de guerre

Small Grant


Conflits - Guerre - Interprétation - Traduction


Ce texte n'existe qu'en anglais.

War and conflict know no linguistic boundaries. Language specialists often play an essential role in intelligence gathering before and during a conflict. Ending a conflict and delivering emergency and humanitarian aid across language barriers represents a major challenge, for which few of the organizations entrusted with operations in the field are linguistically well equipped. This problem is compounded by a chronic shortage of interpreters in zones of crisis and war willing to work in the line of fire or in areas of natural disaster.

Interpreters are often recruited because they “know” both the local language/dialect and English, the language of international relief operations, and not because they have been trained as translators or interpreters. It is safe to say that hardly any have undergone training in interpreting. Thus, they lack both essential professional skills to perform adequately as interpreters, as well as the necessary deontological knowledge to support crisis management and humanitarian efforts in a stressful environment.

The consequences are dire both for the people in need of a professional service and for the interpreters themselves. Staff deployed in the field are often unable to communicate properly with the local population and find it difficult to assess real needs and to deliver the services they were meant to provide in a way that is commensurate with the financial and human effort that has gone into planning such relief or crisis management operations. Often the objectives of such operations cannot be fully met because of communication break-downs. The consequences for the interpreters are no less disappointing and painful: lack of proficiency in English, misplaced loyalties, having to assume roles that “empower” them to pass judgment during interrogations or asylum interviews, for example, without requisite deontological training, inadvertently participating in human rights violations, etc.

Although over the past few years attempts have been made to develop hand-held translation devices that are safe to be used in the field (BabelFish, Language Weaver), experts are unanimous in their assessment of such devices saying that they cannot replace human interpreters.

This project seeks to address the issues described above and proposes to develop tools for analyzing multilingual communication needs in zones of crisis and war; design two distance learning modules and set up a distance learning environment for interpreters working in the field; deliver distance learning to interpreters in at least two zones of crisis and evaluate interpreter performance after completion of the two learning modules. An additional outcome will be a handbook focusing on management of language and cultural differences in the field.

La contribution du RUIG pour ce projet s'élève à CHF 33'963

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Equipe de recherche

Prof. Jean-Pierre Gontard , Membre principal, Institut universitaire d'études du développement (IUED) .

Mme Ruth Griffiths , Membre principal, Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) .

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