The Corner

Language Lunacy

So much for Senator Kerry running to the right of President Bush on language issues. John Edwards has the most specifically anti-English record of any of Kerry’s possible running mates.

Edwards told the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund in June, 2003:

[W]e need to stop differences in language and culture from interfering with good health care. I’d start with a National Medical Translation System. That means an effective, in-person translation system at every hospital in the biggest cities. For smaller cities and rural hospitals, we need a National Medical Translation Center—24 hours a day, 7 days a week, translators on call. To make this work, it’ll take new incentives for doctors and nurses to become translators.

Why all this interest in translation mandates by a trial lawyer? Professional translators make mistakes. According to the January 2003 Pediatics study, “Errors in Medical Interpretation,” [warning: PDF file], 53% of the translations by professional interpreters contain at least one error “with potential clinical consequences.”

Every translation error by a hospital-paid employee can become grounds for a costly lawsuit — something unlikely to happen if the “translator” is also a friend or family member. Here’s a slogan for their campaign: “If you think medical costs are too low, vote Kerry-Edwards in 2004.”


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