Millions of Americans Are “Getting Lost in Translation During Hospital Visits
Miscommunication due to language barriers is a growing health care issue, and technologies to aid interpretation are racing to keep up”
The article below is a perfect example of the need for anthropologists in business settings. The headline says technology will aid interpretation. Maybe. But technology doesn’t solve translation problems; humans do. The technology has to be designed correctly, with all the stakeholders having input. The needs of everyone in the communication channel have to be considered for it to be successful.
Whenever I see or hear the words translation or meaning, I suspect there’s a role for anthropology. Communication problems are often the result of differences in meaning, which is right in anthropology’s wheelhouse. Meanings are dependent on context. Culture is context. Applied anthros can do the qualitative research to determine how meanings differ between stakeholders.
I think humans tend to depend on technology as an “easy answer” to communication problems. Humans are complicated, therefore communication is complicated. Technology is a tool, but we need to understand the communication issues from the viewpoint of each stakeholder before we wade in.
As Einstein said,
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
Humans have an evolutionary drive to make life easier, I believe, and that often translates into wanting quick answers. But solutions in our current world work better most of the time if the needs of everyone involved are taken into consideration.