What Does an Army Linguist Do?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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The position of an army linguist is one that is borne out of the necessity for communication between the army in question and the members of foreign communities who may not speak the same language as the members of that army. People who serve in a particular military unit are usually drawn from the members of the originating local community, and the majority of them may only speak the local languages. It is necessary for the army to be able to communicate with people who speak other languages, something that is especially vital when they are on missions on foreign soils. This is where an army linguist becomes necessary since such a person will be able to ease communication through interpretation and other duties like translating from one language to the other.

In the case of interpretation, the army linguist will be able to assist the army by translating communication from the people who speak another language to the mother tongue of the army. For instance, the army might hire the linguist to translate a recorded speech to the desired language, in this case the speech may be a radio broadcast, or it may be some other form of speech that the army wants to understand. This skill of the army linguist may also be required in the case of a recorded interview where the person being interviewed speaks a foreign language that the other members of the army cannot interpret correctly.


Another duty of an army linguist is to serve as an interpreter, a more immediate skill that requires the army linguist to listen to the speech by one party and translate it to the language of the other party to enable them communicate with each other. This skill of the army linguist is also needed in the case of missions in foreign countries where the language or dialect in question may not be understood by the army, or where the locals may not understand the language that the army members are speaking. People who are already enlisted in the army may serve in this capacity as well as civilians who are not enlisted. The process for qualifying to serve as an army linguist is one that is dependent on the requirements of the country in question, ranging from formal training and other types of further orientation that will be in accordance with the rules of the army.


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