US: Military confronts critical language-skill needs

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Oct 13 13:45:59 UTC 2008

Forwarded  From: edling at

Stars Stripes

Military confronts critical language-skill needs

Army Sgt. Amy O'Keefe, a signal intelligence specialist, was frustrated
while in Iraq in 2003 trying to tell local women they needed to be searched
for weapons before they could enter Army health care clinics.

"There would be people here or there who could speak enough English where we
would maybe get a point across," O'Keefe recalled.  "But for most, I'd be
like a mime having to gesture and hoping the intent was clear."

Army Sgt. William J. Golden knew the feeling.  He arrived in Iraq three
years later with no Arabic language skill.  Because he and other soldiers
couldn't communicate with locals, troop patrols, whether to make an arrest
or to keep the peace, seemed to deepen Iraqi fears, Golden said.

Full story:


Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list