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Old 07-15-2009   #15
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Hi JC,

Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
My experience is a mixed bag when it comes to linguists. Making one translate everything at a meeting can sometimes totally bog things down, confuse you and your host or vice-versa, and create an unintended result of fatiguing the linguist.
That's certainly possible. What i was thinking of when I made the suggestion was a story in Steve Featherston's Harpers article. Steve was out with a patrol which had a 'terp. The local elder they were talking with, when asked about whether or not the Taliban were in the area, responded with a story about an elephant being nibbled to death by ants. The 'terp translated this as "No Taliban activity around here" .

The story itself actually illustrated how the Taliban were operating in the are and, if it had been translated, would have opened up a fruitful discussion. Because it wasn't translated, the partol leader had no idea that there was activity in the area.

Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
Recording conversations is great for documenting and recapping sometimes long engagement events. It is, in fact, one thing that we did not do well our last time out, but I will make a point to ensure it gets done this next time.
Generally, it's a good idea and, since data storage is cheap, it really isn't that much of a problem technically speaking. I use a digital data recorder during field interviews that has an 11 hour capacity and a USB download - plug it into my laptop, copy it, and I'm done.

The other reason why recordings are useful goes back to story telling. If you have a couple of 'terps back at HQ, they can track commonalities in stories that start to show up in an area and that can be used to track Taliban activity in terms of their physical actions (ants vs. elephants) and IO activities. Hopefully, that will give you a faster loop inside their actions letting you counter them before they really get rolling.
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
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