Understanding Travel Restrictions

Understanding Travel Restrictions

Take Dialect Into Consideration When Requesting An Interpreter

by Eva Morris

The first step toward ensuring that a non-English-speaking client or patient knows what is going on during an interaction is to have an interpreter, but the process doesn't end there. That interpreter needs to know multiple dialects of the language to ensure that no other confusion is introduced into the discussion. Using the wrong dialect to translate can be futile if the dialect is not that mutually intelligible with the dialect that the client or patient speaks.

Major Differences

In some cases, the dialect difference can be overcome. American and British English have their differences, for example, but they are minor enough so that there isn't really a lot of confusion. Minor issues, such as the word "grill" (a barbecue in the U.S. but the oven broiler in the UK), do exist. But people in each dialect group are aware of enough differences to do some additional self-translating.

Other languages and dialects aren't so easy. Mandarin and Cantonese are a classic example; often considered dialects instead of separate languages, the two are mutually unintelligible except for a few words. Someone who speaks Cantonese does not automatically understand Mandarin, and vice versa.

Somali is yet another language like that. The Benaadir and Northern dialects are mutually intelligible. The Maay dialect is really not. Some Maay-speaking people may be able to understand Northern (which is often considered the "standard" version) if the speech is said carefully enough, but in most cases, you'd need a Maay speaker to translate.

What's even more important is to take the whole language landscape into account. A Somali person may speak a completely different language, like Swahili or even Italian, as a first language instead of one of the main Somali dialects.


Obviously, if you have only a vague idea of what the person might speak, and that person doesn't speak enough English to tell you they need a specific dialect, start off with what you know. A Northern Somali interpreter could at least identify that the person's language was a different dialect or language, and you can go from there. Keep in mind that it is also possible that the person speaks multiple dialects and languages and may understand written standard Somali even if they don't understand the spoken dialect.

Contact an interpreter service to start the translation process as soon as possible. The faster you find out what dialect the person speaks, the easier it will be to find someone to help interpret.


About Me

Understanding Travel Restrictions

As soon as I started traveling worldwide for work, I realized that I needed to work hard to understand the travel restrictions for some of the places where I would be going. After I tried to board a plane with a pack of playing cards to Germany and I was turned away, I realized that there were some finicky countries out there. I worked hard to research each and every place where I would be visiting, and within a few months I felt like I had the hang of things. This blog is filled with fun information about travel and tourism so that you can enjoy your travels and your work trips.