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Translation services for immigrants

So I have a question my google-fu is failing me on - I keep just getting results from the Daily Mail. I have a feeling all the information I want will be on websites in other languages, which isn't that helpful to mostly monolingual me.

In the UK we provide translators - and translated leaflets, government and local council information etc - in various languages, for immigrants. You can get a translator if you're going to the doctor or to the hospital or to court, or social services or various other things. Are we unusually generous about this? What level of support do other countries give?

I was arguing with somebody the other day who claimed that we're the only country who provides any of this, which I'm pretty sure is nonsense, but am having trouble proving. (I did argue that it provided jobs for translators, but I don't think that convinced.)

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( 22 comments — Comment )
bopeepsheep
Jul. 15th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
I have seen some official leaflets in English while in France; narenek's parents generally speak French well enough to cope at the hospital/GP etc but I know some of their friends have used translators in emergencies. I am not sure how many other languages they might provide information in, and my hunch is that it isn't as wide a range as it is in the UK but that's partly a social issue - our immigration pool is demonstrably wider than France's, by and large.
pickwick
Jul. 15th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, true. One of my friends speaks Spanish fluently and does a lot of translation work for the council - some of it is dealing with official delegations and so on, but a lot of it is hospital or court translations for people from Spanish-speaking South American or occasionally African countries, so it will depend very much on where your immigrants are from.
londonkds
Jul. 15th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)
There are furious right-wing protests in the US about government information sheets and verbal interaction being provided in Spanish, so they must be doing it for that language at least.
pickwick
Jul. 15th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've read about that, I think. Probably connected with rantings about illegal immigrants and things too.
a_pawson
Jul. 15th, 2010 09:58 pm (UTC)
In some parts of the US, Spanish is the primary language. We found this in some parts of Florida, particularly around Miami. There were many shops and gas stations where nobody spoke English, I assume because of the large Mexican and Cuban immigrant population.
pickwick
Jul. 15th, 2010 11:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I can't really think of an analogous situation in Britain for that - Welsh or Gaelic-speaking places are a bit different because they're indigenous languages, I guess.
londonkds
Jul. 16th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
English isn't an indigenous language in the US either.
pickwick
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
True, dammit! I was trying to find a word other than "indigenous" and couldn't...
londonkds
Jul. 17th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
Dominant? I think the technical phrase in sociological circles is "religion of rule", but that may only apply in cases like parts of Africa or South Asia where the ex-colonial official government language is only spoken by a minority of the population.
http://openid.claimid.com/jcd
Jan. 6th, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
There are places in the "indigenous" language (in the sense that you are using it, meaning the native language of the dominant stably settled ethnic group) is not English. In New Mexico, for instance, there is a large population that has been in New Mexico since Spaniards immigrated over 400 years ago. In the intervening time, the land became Mexico, and then later joined the United States. The people are not "immigrants" except in the sense that all Americans of European ancestry are immigrants. Their families have been present on that land as long as the land has been part of the United States of America, and have spoken Spanish that whole time.
pentane
Jul. 16th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
The US government provides things in a ton of languages. I know in San Francisco at the police department there were information sheets in three foreign alphabets (Korean, Thai, some chinese variant(s)) as well as a lot of other languages.
luckykaa
Jul. 15th, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
Of course those silly foreigners don't. We do though because we're British and cool like that:P

No, I have no idea if this is true. Still, it does surprise me that people care so much. It's not a huge expense - translators don't get paid that much after all, and that's the only inconvenience I can see to it. On the other hand, if people are entitled to use our medical facilities it seems fair that they should be able to understand what they're being told.

And if they end up in court, they defendant is entitled to a fair trial which may require non English speakers be allowed to speak whether they're the defendant or just witnesses.
pickwick
Jul. 15th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
It's amazing what people get outraged about! I've been arguing with people all day about some shopping centre which is thinking about putting in a couple of squatting-type toilets for people who prefer them. A private company choosing what services to provide, and people are still complaining.

And I totally agree, it just seems fair.
dave_t_lurker
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
I have nothing to add to the conversation, but every time I see this icon I get *that* song stuck in my head.
pickwick
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
Sorry!


(...Oh, wait, did that do it again? Oops? ;->)

Edited at 2010-07-16 08:55 pm (UTC)
anonymous_greg
Jul. 15th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not aware of any government supplied translators (Stateside), but here in California government related documents (esp. those related to voting) include translations into several different languages -- primarily Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese (not sure which dialect(s)), to name what I can remember at the moment.
pickwick
Jul. 15th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC)
Interesting, thanks! I don't think British councils would ever think about providing Vietnamese translations, but they do have translation for a variety of Indian and Southern Asian languages, just because of different immigration patterns.
rwrylsin
Jul. 16th, 2010 01:10 am (UTC)
In Australia most government information comes with translation or information on where to get the translated version, or phone for a translator.
It doesn't seem as pervasive as in the UK, but I think it is heading in that direction. It's certainly more standard now than it was a decade ago.
pickwick
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
Ooh, so Australia does have translators too. Cool.
xgirl76
Jul. 16th, 2010 10:06 am (UTC)
This is the case in Ireland too and many companies which would use their business a lot (phone etc) advertise in foreign languages too.
pickwick
Jul. 16th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've started to see ads in Polish and Arabic around here sometimes, actually.
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Aug. 11th, 2010 04:43 am (UTC)
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