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Translators

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"Translators"

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Zengerle’s right — this is crazy. You have a Muslim woman originally from Jordan who enlists in the U.S. Army to be an Arabic translator. But even a six month stint at an intense English-language training program at an Air Force base wasn’t enough to get her up to the Army’s standard level of English proficiency, so now she’s out.

To review the basic shape of things, the US government has at its disposal way, way, way fewer Arabic speaker and Arabic translators than it needs. Normally the problem with taking someone and turning them into a translator is that they don’t know Arabic. In this case, the trouble is that the woman’s English isn’t good enough. But the need for translators isn’t going away. It’s not like the country is awash in highly qualified people who can obtain security clearances. And given our country’s large supply of English-speakers, it’s got to be far easier for us to train someone to speak English than to train someone to speak Arabic. Give her another six months in school! This kind of casual attitude toward language skills has been going on for years and years now, but it’s really absurd.

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