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Medical News & Perspectives
February 14, 2001

Tearing Down the Tower of Babel

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JAMA. 2001;285(6):722-723. doi:10.1001/jama.285.6.722-JMN0214-2-1

Economists extol the benefits of the emerging global economy. Glitzy television commercials for the Internet promise to bring everyone together with just a click of a computer mouse. Still, age-old barriers exist—not the least of which is how to communicate commercially in a world of more than 200 countries whose peoples speak more than 6000 languages.

Translating language is essential for this dialogue. It may be obvious, but it gets little fanfare. And for health care, with its highly technical and scientific nature, proper translation can be a matter of life and death.

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