Newsweek on Arabic translators/interpreters in the USA

Via Bloggerheads (posted on October 20th, no permalink, with reference to Frank Burns), yet another article entitled Lost in Translation, this time from Newsweek. This is about the FBI’s need for Arabic speakers.

bq. The FBI has no shortage of applicants who want to be translators. In the month after 9/11, some 2,000 queued up. But three of four applicants drop out when they learn the stiff requirements. Security has been a touchy issue ever since the bureau discovered in 2001 that one of its top counterintelligence officials, Robert Hanssen, had been a Russian mole for almost two decades. So the loyalty test is tough. Dozens of Arabic-speaking Sephardic Jews from Brooklyn, N.Y., failed to qualify when they declined to renounce their Israeli citizenship. Applicants must submit to polygraph tests. Background checks on translators who have lived abroad for many years are difficult and time-consuming. Easier just to nix the well-traveled, foreign-born candidate. In the end, more than 90 percent of applicants fail to make the grade.

The title Lost in Translation is in the news because of the film, of course. But there is an interesting autobiography of the same name, by Eva Hoffman, who emigrated as a child from Poland to Canada in the 1950s. I read this a few years ago. I think a weblog has reminded us of it lately, but I can’t find the reference. However, wood s lot quotes an interesting text on it, from TRANS: Internet journal for cultural sciences, in English, French and German.

3 thoughts on “Newsweek on Arabic translators/interpreters in the USA

  1. Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey discusses movies that feature linguists as prominent characters. If you have suggestions to add to the list, I’m sure he’d be glad to see them. And while we’re on the subject of linguists and translators, Margaret Marks…

  2. Thanks – I actually typed in the name of your blog, but then I couldn’t find the link (it predates your actual visit to the film). Did you see the latest entry in languagehat, where he says Uncle Jazzbeau is collecting films with translators as characters? I saw you mentioned another one in your blog.

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