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A Paradigm Shift in Perception

Translation is my life's work. And it's good work, at least here in Turtle Bay, the neighborhood of the United Nations. But for translators and interpreters caught up in battle zones or legal limbos, it's a career that kills or lands them in prison. Translators are sometimes considered traitors, and are treated as such in many parts of the world.

Ken Clark

So when I first heard about Red T, and the idea that linguists in war zones, detention camps and other areas of tension ought to be protected, I was struck by the essential decency of it. I imagined Red T as something akin to the Red Cross, or "TV" affixed in gaffer's tape on the side of some journalist's dusty rental van in some conflict zone. And while this may not stop a bullet, it represents a paradigm shift from how translators and interpreters in such settings are often perceived.

This shift is long overdue. The lack of trust facing our colleagues not only places them and their families in harm's way, it puts us all at risk. But to accomplish this, much needs to be done.

Red T is off to a solid start: We've partnered with AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters) and FIT (International Federation of Translators) and issued a Conflict Zone Field Guide, the first of its kind. We're building a database tracking T&I incidents across the globe. We raise our voice for linguists at risk, be it on social networks, through advocacy letters, or in academic journals; and we're in steady contact with our colleagues in the field.

As Chair of Red T, I'm committed to achieving its mission. Please take a look at what we set out to do, here. I invite you to join me.

Posted on March 15th, 2012