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Organization provides translations as Montana and Northern Rockies grow

Posted at 9:50 AM, Dec 01, 2021

BOZEMAN — With Montana’s growing population there has been more of a need for language accessibility and Montana Language Services in Bozeman aims to help businesses and people as well as the community across Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, get that language access.

While our phones in our pockets with Siri and Google Translate might be the easiest way to make translating quick and simple, what Kendall Levinson's program offers is much more than just a quick search.

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“When you speak in your native language and you can fully express yourself, that's just the first step to be empowered to participate in things like government, schools, non-profit organizations,” says Levinson.

“It's like real communication between humans without the machines,” says Levinson.

In Gallatin, Park and Madison counties, around 2.5-5% of the population now speaks Spanish — but that number can fluctuate a lot depending on the season with workers coming and going.

“For Spanish speakers in Montana we have reached that threshold,” says Levinson.

As more and more people move to Montana the need for language services is needed especially for helping with legal and medical translations.

“Making the programs more accessible, to everybody and including everybody and so it has been really rewarding all around,” says Levinson.

Spanish is not only the only language that's growing fast in Montana. Other languages Like Korean, Vietnamese are also becoming more prevalent and some that you may not even think of.

“African languages like Tigrinya or Swahili, and so whenever I see those as a linguist I get really excited,” says Levinson.

While we may have access to many translation services online it still doesn't match the human to human need for translations.

“Language services is a professional skill and when you use Google translate or any other machine translation, it's a great tool in your toolbox but it shouldn't be used for anything that requires context, nuance, accuracy,” says Levinson.

Levinson says that through her work and helping the community she hopes to empower those through language.

“When you speak in your native language and you can fully express yourself, that's just the first step to be empowered to participate in things like government, schools, non-profit organizations,” says Levinson.

She now hopes she can get more community support to keep providing language access