Problems with Machine Translations

I know, I know, we just talked about this last week. But we found a really great graphic of the same sentence translated by a machine into seven different languages, and then back to English. Much like a game of “telephone,” the message gets garbled. Thanks to Erik Hansson for this one. We follow him […]


Devoid of accent, if you were reading a transcription of a conversation and told it happened somewhere in America, you might still be able to figure out where. How? Regionalisms. They’re those seemingly insignificant words that creep into your vocabulary after living in an area for a while. You pick these colloquialisms up to talk with […]

Young Girl May Have Been Forced to Interpret

A DesMoines area woman says she was having trouble understanding doctors’ instructions because she’s deaf. Her daughter Addison was at the hospital after being referred to have her tonsils and adenoids removed, and the staff was instructing the mother what to do to prepare the girl for surgery. When the mother asked the hospital staff for […]

Video Round-Up

New feature coming to the Affordable Language Services blog: a monthly video round-up! Each month we’ll feature 5 videos on our YouTube channel. They’ll range from the funny and inane to the scholarly. Check it out! Here’s what we have in store for you this month. Longest Words in the English Language Happy Birthday (in […]

Guest Post: Thomas Johnston’s Story

Why Get Certified – Thomas Johnston’s Story Hello, my name is Thomas Johnston. I am a Certified Healthcare Interpreter™ and the Interpreting Operations Manager at Affordable Language Services. I am very passionate about what I do, and it has been quite an interesting ride for me. Allow me to tell you how I got here. […]

How do machine translations work? (or not work)

If you’ve ever tried to translate something online, you know how frustrating that can be. Some words translate flawlessly, others translate verbatim but don’t seem to fit in the sentence, and others don’t translate at all. Why is it all so hit or miss? The Washington Post says it’s all in the numbers. Researchers used […]

Interpreter of the Month: Maryem Rah

This month we’re honoring Maryem Rah as Interpreter of the month. Maryem is a Qualified Medical and Legal Interpreter at Affordable Language Services, and also takes on Educational and Social interpreting roles. She’s always willing to juggle her schedule to accommodate a heavy load of interpretation jobs. We feel we’re truly sending one of our […]

Creating a Universal Language

It sounds nearly impossible, right? How could one language be implemented across cultural divides to encompass each culture’s unique linguistic needs? Well, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is giving it a go. But in this instance, they’re not trying to push a new language on anyone other than robots and machinery. They are […]

Mae Saves the Day!

It may sound like something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but that’s exactly what happened on the day after Thanksgiving 2009. The wife of one of our interpreters went into labor with their first child. At the time, she was just learning to speak English, and her mother did not speak any English at […]

Doctor-Patient Communication

Going into a medical setting can be a difficult job for an interpreter. There are added legal restrictions that must be kept in mind to protect the patient’s privacy, high tensions surrounding diagnoses, and the ever-watchful eyes of friends and family. Sometimes, the patient may not “get it” the first time, so as an interpreter […]