Female Interpreters

Interpreters are typically relegated to background characters in history, if they’re recognized at all. And unfortunately, female interpreters, like linguists from other marginalized groups, are even more likely to be overlooked. Yet they’ve always played an essential role in the conversations that shape our world. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the women who have bridged language gaps and worked to improve intercultural understandings across time and geography.

 

Sacagawea (United States)

 

A Lehmi-Shoshone woman from modern-day North Dakota, Sacagawea played a vital role in the exploration of the American West. In 1804, the 16-year-old joined the Lewis and Clark expedition and served as the group’s primary guide and interpreter. She established cultural contracts with other tribes as they traveled, and her knowledge of natural history was essential for the group’s survival. During the journey in 1805, she gave birth to her son, explorer Jean Baptiste Charbonneau. As a new mom, she became a symbol of peace to those who met her.

 

Elena Kidd (Russia)

 

Elena Kidd is best known for her role as a former conference interpreter and translator for Mikhail Gorbachev. She interpreted conferences and meetings for the former General Secretary

in the early 1990s, a volatile era in post-Soviet Russia. According to Kidd, she had no trouble understanding his Southern accent but his long, convoluted sentences made him difficult to paraphrase. Today, she serves as a senior lecturer at the University of Bath and as a senior interpreter at the Finance Academy of the RF Government. She specializes in banking, finance, securities & exchanges, insurance, accounting, and auditing.

 

Banafsheh Keynoush (U.K. & Iran)

 

Serving as a simultaneous interpreter for four Iranian presidents is a major feat for anyone. But it’s especially impressive for the self-taught interpreter, Banafsheh Keynoush. Keynoush, who grew up in West London, returned to Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War and got her first taste of international relations. She later earned her B.A. and M.A. in English and taught herself how to interpret by listening to the BBC. (There were no interpreting schools in Iran at the time.) Today, she serves as an independent consultant and has advised the United Nations, International Labor Organization, The World Bank, and many other NGOs, think tanks, and international organizations.

 

Are there any other female interpreters, translators, or linguists you’d like to celebrate?

Give them a shout out in the comments!

 

Sign Language

You probably already know that most spoken languages belong to a language family. But did you know that many sign languages do as well? Although linguistic research into sign languages lags behind spoken languages, at least six language families have been identified along with numerous isolates. Here’s a look at all six families and where they’re used throughout the world.

 

Arab

 

The Arab sign language family is made up of variations of sign languages that are used throughout the Middle East. Its sentence structure is similar to spoken Arabic. However, unlike spoken Arabic, there’s no distinction between a formal and colloquial sign language. Dialects include: Levantine, Iraqi, Yemini, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, and Libyan sign languages.

 

BANZSL

 

The term BANZSL stands for British, Australia, and New Zealand sign languages. All three variations are dialects of the same language, and trace their roots back to sign language in 19th century Britain. They use the same grammar, manual alphabet, and have similar vocabulary.

It’s also used in Northern Ireland, South Africa, The Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

French

 

French sign languages descend from Old French Sign Language, which was developed by the deaf community in Paris. It can be traced back as far as the 17th century, but is likely older. It’s used in Western Europe, North America, Francophone Africa, and parts of Asia. American Sign Language (ASL) belongs to this family, and the French dialect is still used in Philadelphia.

 

German

 

The German sign language family includes German Sign Language, Polish Sign Language, and Israeli Sign Language. Although the German dialect is used in Germany and within German-speaking communities in Belgium, it’s unrelated in spoken German.

 

Japanese

 

Japanese Sign Language (JSL), Korean Sign Language (KSL), and Taiwanese Sign Language (TSL) belong to the Japanese Sign Language family. JSL was standardized in 1908, and has a heavy influence on KSL and TSL due to Japan’s presence in the region. All three are mutually intelligible, and have grammatical structures and features that aren’t found in their spoken counterparts.

 

Swedish

 

The Swedish Sign Language family includes the sign languages used in Sweden, Finland, and Portugal. Swedish Sign Language (SL) may have descended from British Sign Language, and later gave rise to Portuguese and Finnish sign languages. While Danish Sign Language belongs to the French family, it’s mutually intelligible with Swedish SL. However, despite being in the same family, Finnish and Swedish SL aren’t mutually intelligible.

 

Sign Language Isolates

 

In addition to the major language families, numerous sign language isolates exist. These include:

 

  • Chinese Sign Language
  • Hawai’i Sign Language
  • Inuit Sign Language
  • Mauritian Sign Language
  • Nicaraguan Sign Language
  • Peruvian Sign Language

 

Final Thoughts

 

As you can see sign languages are just as diverse as spoken languages. Some reach as far as four continents, while others share few similarities with national spoken languages.

 

By understanding their unique histories and cultures, you’ll be better prepared to serve members of the deaf community within your own country. And if you live in a region where American Sign Language (ASL) is widely used, Boostlingo can help. Our ASL 24/7 service let’s you connect with a remote interpreter whenever you need one.

 

Want to find out if Boostlingo is right for you? Start your free trial today!

 

indigenous languages

Although English, Spanish, and French dominate the linguistic landscape of North and Central America, indigenous languages still thrive throughout the region. Below is a look at the most commonly spoken ones in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala.

 

United States and Canada

 

Approximately 169 indigenous languages are spoken in the United States and 60 are spoken in Canada. The three largest include:

 

  • Navajo – 170,000. Navajo is the official language of the Navajo Nation. It’s also widely spoken in Arizona and New Mexico, and to a lesser extent in Colorado, California, Texas, Eastern Alaska, and Northwestern Canada. It belongs to the Na-Dené family.

 

  • Cree – 117,000. Cree is spoken by the Cree people across Canada, from Northwest Territories to Labrador. It’s an official language of Northwestern Territories and belongs to the Algonquin family.

 

  • Inuit – 65,025 in Canada and 16,581 in the U.S. Inuit is a closely related group of languages that belong to the Inuit-Yupik-Unangan family. Spoken primarily in Nunavut, Quebec, Labrador, and Alaska, these languages have official status in Nunavut.

 

Mexico

 

Sixty-three indigenous languages are recognized in Mexico. Three of the largest are among the country’s official languages. These include:

 

  • Nahuatl – 1.7 million. Nahuatl is spoken by the Nahua people in Central Mexico and in parts of the U.S. It belongs to the Uto-Aztecan language family.

 

  • Yucatec Maya – 792,000. Yucatec Maya, simply called “Maya speech” by its speakers is spoken in Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Northern Belize. It belongs to the Mayan family.

 

  • Mixtec – 500,934. Mixtec is spoken by the Mixteco people throughout Oaxaca, Puebla, Guerrero, and parts of the U.S. It belongs to the Oto-Manguean language family and has two major dialects: mixteco alto and mixteco bajo.

 

Guatemala

 

Twenty-one Mayan languages are formally recognized in Guatemala. The three most widely spoken ones belong to the Quichean-Mamean branch of the language family. These include:

 

  • K’iche – 2.3 million. K’iche is the second largest language in Guatemala, and the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mesoamerica. Spoken by the K’iche people of the northern highlands, it’s recognized as a minority language in the country.

 

  • Q’eqchi – 800,000. Q’eqchi is spoken within Q’eqchi communities across Northern Guatemala, Southern Belize, and in parts of Mexico. It’s an official language in Guatemala.

 

  • Kaqchikel – 450,000. Kacqhikel is spoken by the Kacqhikel people of the central highlands. It’s taught in public schools through Guatemala’s bilingual education program.

 

Indigenous Language Support at Boostlingo

 

Given the number of indigenous languages throughout North and Central America, you may be wondering how you can find an interpreter when you need one. Fortunately, we offer support for languages such as Navajo, Mixteco Alto, and Mixteco Bajo through our Boostlingo Professional interpreter Network (BPIN).

 

Want to learn more about how our interpreting platform can help you assist indigenous speakers? Contact us today!

 

Public Cloud

As cloud computing becomes an integral part of modern enterprises, cybersecurity has become a primary concern for tech leaders. You may have worried about how secure your organization’s data is in the cloud, or you may have wondered if it’s worth it to migrate away from your on-premise data center.

By moving to the cloud, you can use cloud services to take advantage of greater data availability, substantial cost savings, and data redundancy. In fact, Gartner reports that up to 60% of organizations will be using an external service provider’s cloud-managed service by 2022, doubling the mark from 2018.

Storing your data in the cloud has some significant advantages compared to keeping your data in an on-premise data center. When your data is backed up to multiple servers in the cloud, you experience less downtime in the event of a breach, a natural disaster, or maintenance. You can also save on IT costs as you have access to your service provider’s dedicated IT resources 24/7. In this article, we will explain these benefits in more detail and examine five reasons why your data is more secure in the public cloud.

Dedicated IT Resources

Most companies simply lack the budget or time to hire and manage a qualified team of IT security professionals to lockdown their on-premise data. So unless your organization already has dedicated resources and deep infrastructure for cybersecurity, you are better off spending time and resources on your core business functions.

When your organization uses on-premise data storage, you are responsible for setting it up and maintaining it. That includes purchasing equipment to set up your IT infrastructure, purchasing new hardware and software, and hiring a team of professional developers to oversee your network and security. Even if you choose to outsource your IT support, that’s an additional cost to factor in.

Even when organizations invest in these safeguards, many do not have an effective cyberattack and breach response plan. Worse, most companies do not regularly test or update their response plans. That’s why more than 50% of organizations believe that they are unprepared to respond effectively to a cyber-attack or breach event.

When you use a public cloud, you don’t need to hire a team of professional developers to oversee your data. Nor do you have to worry about equipment, maintenance costs, hardware, and software. You can expect lower IT costs overall, as your cloud service provider will provide dedicated IT support that frees up your resources for other tasks.

No Physical Location to Breach

Another often overlooked factor when comparing between the public cloud and on-premise environments is physical access. With on-premise data centers, your data and servers are physically located in your office. If a network failure happens, you have to use backup and disaster recovery software to extract your data. You are responsible for managing and maintaining your network unless you pay for outsourced IT support.

On-premise data centers make it easy for your staff to access the IT infrastructure. Still, it also paints a giant bullseye in terms of access for anyone looking for an easy way to quickly breach your personal and financial data. Cybercriminals can physically break into where your servers are and make off with all of your organization’s personal and financial data.

Less daring hackers may attempt to trick your employees into giving up access. For example, they may target specific employees with a phishing attack. The employee thinks they are dealing with a trusted authority and gives up sensitive information about millions of accounts.

Cybercriminals may also send normal-seeming emails to your employees. Once clicked, these emails download malware that leaves a backdoor entry on the compromised computer. Hackers can then use that computer to access any portion of your network and steal personal information such as full names, birth dates, social security numbers, and income data for fraudulent purposes.

More Peace of Mind

For many IT admins and CIOs, storing vital information on-premises may ease their fears about a breach. After all, the information is physically closer, so it must be safer, right? Unfortunately, this very human sentiment doesn’t reflect what actually happens in cybersecurity.

As it turns out, your physical location plays a smaller role in protecting your enterprise data than the means of access. That is, who can access, view, and use the information stored on the server. Cybercriminals are less concerned with where your server is and are typically more emboldened by the vulnerabilities present with on-prem architecture. A physical on-site server adds another thing you must worry about.

Physical servers are susceptible to robbers and more vulnerable to data center fires, which often go unreported. However, cloud-based data is typically stored in data centers with reinforced walls and advanced fire suppression systems. Cloud-based data centers may also come with additional security features such as 24/7 video surveillance, metal detectors, security checkpoints, or on-site guards.

If you are using industry-standard hardware and software, the infrastructure of your on-premise network may seem secure. However, it is only as secure as your least vulnerable employee. Without appropriate training, they can easily fall for a phishing scam or malware attack. Even if they understand cybersecurity best practices, their physical devices can be stolen and used to compromise your network.

Less Downtime

Not only are on-premise data storage systems more susceptible to on-location attacks, but they are also at greater risk of natural disasters and the forces of nature. Sure, a hurricane or a tornado might not sweep through your office, but what if there’s an electrical fire? All it takes is one rogue spark for your data backup to go up in flames.

A sudden natural disaster will lead to downtime, as will cyberattacks, server updates, human accidents, and planned outages. When all your data is on a single network, any downtime can lead to hours or days of downtime and cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your physical data server is damaged, you can expect weeks or even months of downtime while technicians painstakingly salvage your data from your hardware.

When you use public cloud storage, a backup copy of your data is created in real-time on another server. This is known as data mirroring, which ensures continuous data availability even if one server goes down. Data mirroring can be implemented locally or offsite at a different location, and it enables you to recover critical data after a breach or disaster.

The mirror backup minimizes the threat of downtime because cloud servers back up your data in multiple places. This built-in redundancy ensures that multiple servers all have the same data at the same time, which guarantees your data resources to be continuously available. Cloud storage removes any single points of failure, and the high availability of this data system reduces downtime when you cannot access your data.

Data Security

Data Security is a measure of protecting files, databases, and accounts on a network by ratifying and adopting an assembly of controls, applications, and techniques that establish the significance of varying datasets, their sensitivity, regulatory compliance requirements and then applying/implementing appropriate protections to secure those resources.

Similar to other approaches like file security, perimeter security or individual behavioral security, data security is not the end all for a security practice. It is one method of assessing and reducing the risk that comes with storing any kind of data.

What are the Main Elements of Data Security?

The core elements of data security are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Also known as the CIA triad, this is a security model and guide for organizations to keep their sensitive data protected from unauthorized access and data exfiltration.

  • Confidentiality ensures that data is accessed only by authorized individuals;
  • Integrity ensures that information is reliable as well as accurate; and
  • Availability ensures that data is both available and accessible to satisfy business needs.

Future-proofed Technology

On-premise data centers are usually built up over many years, meaning the hardware for these servers is often a mishmash of different legacy systems and software at various stages of its lifecycle. This makes maintenance a logistical and financial headache. And you can forget about integrating new systems into your existing infrastructure.

Public data centers are continually updated and improved. Your cloud service provider will purchase whatever new hardware and software are needed, and frequently update cyberattack and breach response plans to keep up with the latest trends. Compare that with managing your data on-premise, where you would be responsible for upgrading your IT infrastructure and testing new security measures.

When you don’t have to worry about on-premise hardware, you don’t spend time trying to integrate your disparate systems, some of which may no longer be supported anyway. Integrating your different hardware and software can be difficult without technical expertise, not to mention a huge drain on resources and manpower.

On-premise solutions often lead to a patchwork of technology systems, which each require implementation, training, and maintenance. The more technology your staff has to handle, the more likely they are to get frustrated, or worse, make mistakes that leave you vulnerable to a potential breach.

Conclusion

With more enterprises adopting cloud services, there has been a renewed focus on user security and data privacy. Organizations are increasingly moving away from the traditional on-premise data center and migrating their data to the cloud. Moving your data to the cloud can bring substantial benefits, including less downtime, greater data availability, significant IT savings, and data redundancy.

With a trusted cloud service provider, you can enjoy a greater peace of mind knowing that you have dedicated IT resources at your disposal and that your data is protected by industry standard security measures. No matter what the size of your organization or what industry you are in, adopting the cloud can improve your data security and data management.

Choosing a Reliable Solution

More enterprises and companies are using cloud managed services, including interpreting solutions such as Boostlingo. Boostlingo relies on a unified interpretation platform that has strong data security and privacy measures built in. This approach not only safeguards your data, but it also ensures your organization is meeting the compliance standards across all international regulatory guidelines and requirements.

Where is Boostlingo Data Located?

 

Boostlingo’s cloud-based interpreting platform does all of the work, meaning you never have to worry about damaging data or privacy breaches. The Boostlingo platform comes with backend data support, maximizing user security, privacy, and regulatory compliance.

One concern and question that many organizations may also have is “Where is my data located?”

  • Boostlingo data is hosted via Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS datacenters are relocated across the globe; however, the data hosting generally corresponds to an organizations physical location and adheres to data sovereignty compliance requirements. These data centers are not publicly advertised and are extremely high security compounds on par with some military installations.
  • For companies located In the United States, Boostlingo data is stored in data facilities in Northern California, and in northeastern Oregon.
  • In Canada Boostlingo data is presently housed in Montreal.
  • In Europe, Boostlingo data is maintained in Frankfurt Germany.
  • In the UK Boostlingo data is housed in London.
  • In the Australia and in the Asia Pacific region Boostlingo data is located in Sydney Australia.

To learn more, request a free trial and see how Boostlingo can be your perfect interpreting technology solution.

Deaf Interpreters

From White House news briefings to the Super Bowl LV, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are enjoying the spotlight. Yet what you may not know is that deaf people who serve as ASL interpreters belong to their own category. Deaf interpreters such as Marla Berkowitz not only bridge the gap between ASL and English, but experience the challenges of being deaf in a hearing-centric world.

 

Here’s a look at the unique role deaf interpreters play and how they work with their hearing counterparts to create a more accessible society.

 

What is a Certified Deaf Interpreter?

 

Deaf interpreters (DI) are deaf individuals who have been trained to interpret between ASL and English. They must have excellent communication skills in both languages and may have had specialized training in the use of gestures, mime, and language development. They also have a deep understanding of deafness, the deaf community, and deaf culture.

 

Like their hearing counterparts, deaf interpreters can become certified. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) offers deaf individuals the ability to demonstrate their skills through written and performance tests. Those who pass are known as Certified Deaf Interpreters.

 

What Is a Deaf/Hearing Interpreting Team?

 

Deaf interpreters often work in deaf/hearing interpreting teams. They use a consecutive interpreting process where the hearing interpreter conveys the message to the deaf interpreter. Then the deaf interpreter interprets for the deaf individual.

 

These teams not only help ensure accuracy, but can make a deaf individual feel more comfortable during the process. However, like all ASL interpreters, deaf interpreters must remain neutral and are not advocates for either party.

 

When Should You Use a Deaf/Hearing Interpreting Team?

 

Deaf/Hearing interpreting teams typically work in legal situations due to the need for a high degree of accuracy. They’re also useful when you’re working with:

 

  • Deaf youth.
  • A developmentally disabled person.
  • Someone who uses a non-standard dialect of ASL.
  • Someone who uses foreign sign language.

 

Parents of deaf children may also prefer to work with a deaf/hearing interpreter team during medical appointments, evaluations, counseling, and other scenarios.

 

If you’d like to learn more about deaf/hearing interpreting teams, check out RID’s Standard Practice Papers on interpreting roles and issues.

 

How to Connect with an ASL Interpreter

 

Now, with anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 American ASL users, you may be wondering how to find an ASL interpreter when you need one. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever with Boostlingo. Our video remote interpreting (VRI) platform lets you connect with an ASL interpreter—anytime, anywhere. All you need is a high-speed internet connection, computer or tablet, and a webcam to get started.

 

Want to try it out for yourself? Contact us today to start your free trial!

Language Interpreting

Whether you’re a novice interpreter or a seasoned professional, there’s always more to learn. And while the internet has made it easier than ever to access training, advice, and support, wading through search results can be a daunting task. That’s why we put together a roundup of YouTube channels that will help you boost your career and stay up-to-date on the industry.

 

So, without further ado, here are five YouTube channels worth following:

 

  1. De La Mora Institute for Interpretation

 

Founded in 1998, the De La Mora Institute for Interpretation provides training and guidance for interpreters of all languages and experience levels. Their official YouTube channel offers tips on interpreting, career advice, and more. It includes their “Subject to Interpretation” video podcast, which features conversations about professional interpretation with leaders in the field. You can also download the audio-only version via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

 

  1. EU Interpreters

 

EU Interpreters is an official YouTube channel of the European Commission. It features news, interpreting tips, and an inside look into working for the EU. Interpreters from around the world share their experiences, and provide their unique perspective on the cultural differences both inside and outside Europe. It’s especially helpful if you’re interested in

conference interpreting.

 

  1. Interprepedia

Owned by Rosa, a Spanish-English translator, Interprepedia features interpreter resources, reviews, and rants about the challenges of the role. Her channel includes advice about preparing for medical and legal certification exams, transitioning to remote interpreting, and more. If you’re interested in working in immigration court, you’ll definitely want to check out her channel.

 

  1. MIT Interpretations

 

The official YouTube channel of the interpreting agency of the same name, MIT Interpretations is hosted by founder and owner Yoana Todorova. The Denver-based Italian-English interpreter offers advice on growing your client list, certification exam prep, and more. Her videos on medical interpreting terminology are especially helpful if you want to work in the field.

 

  1. The Stews

 

Owned by Jill, a hearing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, The Stews covers interpreting tips, deaf culture, LBGTQ+ issues, and more. Jill’s wife Jenna, who is deaf, occasionally makes appearances and the two discuss the challenges of living in the hearing world. From hearing privilege to deaf parenting, the channel offers insight into navigating the world with a disability.

 

Growing Your Business with Boostlingo

 

While YouTube may offer a wealth of advice, it’s ultimately up to you to put it into practice. If you’re ready to take on new clients and grow your interpreting business, Boostlingo can help. Our interpretation platform makes it easy to manage your onsite interpreting schedule, take on-demand remote requests, and track your earnings all in one place. Best of all, it’s easy to use! All you need is a computer or tablet, a high-speed internet connection, and webcam for video calls.

 

Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Contact us today to start your free trial!

 

Interpreters

This post continues a series of posts that shine the spotlight on professional organizations for interpreters and translators. In our last post, we talked about the benefits of joining a professional organization and highlighted one such organization – Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society (NOTIS). In today’s post, we picked another West Coast organization –  The California Healthcare Interpreting Association (CHIA). 

 

CHIA fact file

 

  • Originally named California Healthcare Interpreter’s Association, CHIA was founded in 1996. The name was changed to its current name – The California Healthcare Interpreting Association. This change reflected the fact that the focus of the organization is not just in interpreters, but the interpreting itself, as well as the well-being of LEP patients. 
  • CHIA currently has around 1500 members across the whole United States. 
  • In 2002, CHIA released Ethical Principles, Protocols, and Guidance on Roles & Interventions (a.k.a the CHIA Standards), the nationally recognized California Standards for Healthcare Interpreters which are written into the state’s legislation. The standards are an invaluable tool and are being used by interpreters across the United States. 
  • CHIA members include not only interpreters and translators, but also medical providers, members of healthcare administrations, and public health and language access advocates and activists. 
  • Member benefits include discounts for CHIA regional trainings, webinars and annual conferences as well as an opportunity to vote in board elections and volunteer in CHIA committees. 

 

An interview with current CHIA president, Tatiana Foerster 

 

CHIA is famous for its annual conference that brings interpreters from across the US and even other countries. What are some memorable moments from past CHIA conferences? 

 

Tatiana: In my opinion, the most memorable panel/keynote was last year when we had all CHIA past and present presidents at the same table. It was interesting to see a history of the organization and changes of the organization and profession through the eyes of its leaders. The 2020 conference was attended by about 500 participants who came from 20 US states and even from other countries such as Japan! 

 

What are CHIA’s plans for the 2021 conference? 

 

Tatiana: The 2021 annual conference is going to be virtual and take place on March 5 and 6. We will try to preserve the CHIA spirit and make it not only educational but also fun! For example, conference merchandise will be shipped to your door this year –  T-shirts, mugs and more! Online registration will open on February 5, 2021. The cost will be $150 for all activities on both days. We’ll be applying for CEUs from CCHI, IMIA/NBCMI, RID and WA-DSHS. 

 

What are some notable facts about CHIA? 

 

Tatiana: I would say that the most notable fact is the creation of CHIA standards that are used not only in California but nationwide. Also, CHIA has only one employee.  All Board members are volunteers! They participate in CHIA for the love of the organization and for the love of the profession.

 

African American Linguists

Historically, African American linguists have been overlooked. However, their contributions have provided significant insights into indigenous, African, European, and creole languages that are spoken throughout the world. In honor of Black History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on three famous African American linguists, and the work they’ve done to advance the field.

 

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890 – 1972)

 

Dubbed the father of Gullah Studies, Lorenzo Dow Turner was one of the first African American linguists. He’s best known for his research on the Gullah language of the Low Country in South Carolina and Georgia. Although Gullah was classified as a dialect of English, Turner argued that it should be considered a separate language due to the influence from African languages. In 1949, he published Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, which explores this linguistic phenomenon.

 

Throughout his career, Turner traveled to Louisiana, Sierra Leone, and Brazil to study Creole and Portuguese. He also served as the Head of the English Department at Howard University and Fisk University for a combined total of 30 years. While working at the latter, he developed the first African Studies curriculum in the United States.

 

Mark Hanna Watkins (1903 – 1976)

 

The first African American to earn a PhD with a dissertation in linguistics, Mark Hanna Watkins is known for his research on indigenous and African languages. In 1933, he completed a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago. His thesis focused on the relationship of seven related indigenous languages in Mexico. Three years later, he completed his PhD in Anthropology. His dissertation, A Grammar of Chichewa: A Bantu Language of British Central Africa, remains the only full-length reference on the grammar of the language.

 

Turner spent most of his career researching and writing about the languages and cultures of Africa, Native Americans, African Americans, and Haitians. While serving as a professor at Fisk University, he became one of the six faculty members to join the first African Studies program.

 

John Hamilton McWhorter (1965 – )

 

Better known to the public for his cultural criticism, John Hamilton McWhorter is the only living linguist on our list. An associate professor of English Literature at Columbia University, much of his academic research is on creoles and their relationships to other languages. He has a particular interest in the Surinam creole language Saramaccan.

 

In addition to his academic research, McWhorter has written two non-academic books on linguistics: What Language Is and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue. He also hosts a podcast on linguistics and language learning called Lexicon Valley.

 

Are there any other African American linguists you’d like to celebrate? Give them a shout out in the comments!

Machine translation (MT) accuracy has improved significantly in recent years. In fact, a 2019 study on patient instructions found that 92% of sentences were accurately translated into Spanish, while 81% translated into Chinese were. As translation and interpreting apps continue to refine their capabilities, they pose an important question: will they replace human medical interpreters?

 

The short answer is no. While MT can produce simple instructions or definitions, it still lacks the ability to determine context. Natural languages are nuanced, and cultural differences even among speakers of the same language can change the meaning of words or phrases. Yet interpreting apps still offer several benefits for patients, healthcare professionals, and the interpreters themselves. But before we dive into the benefits, let’s take a look at a few types of medical apps on the market today.

 

Types of Medical Interpreting Apps

 

Not all medical interpreting apps serve the same function. Speech-to-text or text-to-text apps can produce a basic translation of a conversation between patients and health professionals. Others are pre-programed with words and phrases to help a patient understand a specific treatment or medical procedure. Another type includes visual icons to help patients answer questions or make requests by pressing a button.

 

The Benefits of Medical Interpreting Apps

 

Each type of app works to help breakdown communication barriers between patients and medical staff. They can also:

 

  • Reduce the cost of medical interpretation and the wait time associated with interpreting. Healthcare professionals can collect basic information from patients before they connect with an interpreter. This also allows providers to give interpreters some background before they start a session.
  • Improve the accuracy of patient forms. Medical interpreters usually aren’t the ones filling out patient forms, which can lead to staff errors. When patients can see what was recorded with a speech-to-text app, they can immediately correct an error. This improves insurance reimbursement, billing, and healthcare management.
  • Help healthcare professionals determine if patients understand their questions. Medical apps give healthcare professionals a written record of the conversation, which helps them determine if both the patient and interpreter understood them. This opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding can improve health outcomes and reduce the need for readmission.

 

As you can see, instead of replacing medical interpreters, medical apps actually serve as a tool to improve accuracy and patient experiences.

 

Medical Interpreters and Boostlingo

 

Despite the advance in machine translation, medical interpreters will continue to play a vital role in patient care. Fortunately, Boostlingo’s interpreting platform makes it easy to connect with interpreters who speak over 200 languages. You can connect in minutes using our over-the-phone (OPI) or video remove (VRI) options or schedule an onsite interpreter for upcoming appointments. Best of all, it’s easy to use. All you need is a computer or tablet, an internet connection, and a web cam for video calls.

 

Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Contact us today to start your free trial!

ASL Interpreter

Sign language has a rich history in North America. Long before the arrival of Europeans, indigenous tribes developed sign languages to communicate with deaf members. American Sign Language (ASL), on the other hand, traces its roots back to 19th century France. And like any language, ASL has evolved to reflect the cultural and regional differences of its users. Here’s a look at four ASL accents, and how they came to be.

 

Black American Sign Language

 

One of the most famous accents, Black ASL developed as a result of racial segregation in the United States. Deaf African American children, like their hearing counterparts, attended segregated schools. Over time, they developed a dialect of ASL that includes African American idioms, slang, and other cultural references.

 

Black ASL has larger spacing, which means some signs are produced further from the body. Users also tend to prefer signing with two hands, instead of one. However, many deaf African Americans switch between ASL and Black ASL, depending on the context of the conversation. In linguistics, this is known as code-switching.

 

Regional Differences in American Sign Language

 

Given that spoken languages have regional accents, it should come as no surprise that ASL does too. Below are just three of them:

 

 

  • The City of Brotherly Love may not have a famous spoken accent, but it certainly does in ASL. Philadelphia sign language remains closer to French Sign Language, and retains some of its signs. Linguistics believe the accent traces its roots back to the first deaf school in the city, which opened in 1820 and closed in 1984. The longevity of this institution may have helped perverse this unique accent. Unfortunately, it’s disappearing among younger ASL users.

 

  • The American South is known for its laid-back lifestyle and slower speech patterns. Similarly, Southern ASL users draw out signs to mimic the famous Southern drawl. They also touch their lower face and chest more when they communicate.

 

ASL Interpreters and Boostlingo

 

Regardless of their accent, ASL users often need the help of an interpreter when they interact with the hearing world. And that’s where Boostlingo comes in. Our video remote interpreting (VRI) platform makes it easy for professionals in healthcare, legal, and corporate settings to connect with an ASL interpreter. All you need is a high-speed internet connection, a computer or tablet, and a webcam.

 

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