It’s easy to assume that cultures correspond to countries, but the reality is much more complex, and the same is true for languages. You probably know, for instance, that Spanish is spoken in dozens of countries around the world, and that it is spoken a bit differently in each. But what you may not realize is that cultural and linguistic differences occur on a much more local level as well.
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, traces its roots to the secret World War II U.S. Army intelligence unit comprised of Japanese-Americans – the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).
Then, as now, we needed to succeed militarily and also communicate with other cultures and nations.
The MIS was started in late 1941 as a unit to train Japanese-Americans (Nisei) to conduct translation and interrogation activities. MIS men came mostly from Hawaii and the West Coast.
If you ever have to work with people who don’t speak any of the same languages as you, you will probably have to use an interpreter to make yourself understood. Interpreters are a highly valuable resource for cross-cultural communication -- but when things go wrong, they can go very wrong.