Africa’s new generation of indigenous language translators

the world in words

Many Kenyans, like this man, do not speak English-- but they may speak several African languages. (Photo: Phillip Martin) Many Kenyans, like this man, do not speak English– but they may speak several African languages. (Photo: Phillip Martin)

We’re getting better at breaking down language barriers. Thanks to the likes of Google Translate, Duolingo, Rosetta Stone and Skype, we can understand — and even communicate — across languages.

Machine translation is improving all the time. But it’s not always enough.

In most African countries, there are too many sick people, and not enough people or money to care for them. Western countries and aid agencies have done much to improve health care systems: They train doctors, help build hospitals and donate medication.

Caroline Mirethi is a doctor at Gertrude's Pediatric Hospital in Nairobi. (Photo: Phillip Martin) Caroline Mirethi is a doctor at Gertrude’s Pediatric Hospital in Nairobi. (Photo: Phillip Martin) It’s only now that they’re realizing that they need to do something else: Train translators and interpreters to help patients understand what doctors are telling them, to translate public health leaflets and, above…

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