US: Call Center Interpreters Often in the Middle

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Call Center Interpreters Often in the Middle

As the financial crisis worsens, call-center interpreters who once helped lenders promote credit to immigrant communities are now working with banks trying to collect past due accounts. Previously interpreters relied on a script to pitch products and services. Now their role is more complicated as they mediate in stressful cross-cultural negotiations. Interpreters report that callers frequently seem to feel a personal connection. Lucia Pelaez, a Spanish-language interpreter, says, "One of the goals of an immigrant who comes to this country is to … buy a home. You can't help but feel for people when you hear certain things on the line." According to interpreter Yolanda Almader, the average non-English speaker doesn't truly understand the financial terminology. Terms such as lump sum, variable rate, interest-only loan, and balloon payment are likely lost in the translation. She notes, "It sounded very, very good to them when they got loans." Even in cases where the caller clearly doesn't understand a bank representative, interpreters are not allowed to volunteer explanations or make comments. "We have to remember at all times that we are word movers, not interveners or advocates," says Craig Wandke, an interpreter-operations manager for Language Line Services.

From "Separated by a Common Tongue: Foreclosures Trap Translators in Middle"
Wall Street Journal (NY) (04/01/09) Jordan, Miriam

Source: ATA Newsbriefs - April 2009
Ο λόγος είναι μεγάλη ανάγκη της ψυχής. (Γιώργος Ιωάννου)


 

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