Xenoglossophobia: the fear of foreign languages
Tess is the assistant to the publications manager at ‘Dystychiphobia’, the new corporately funded non-profit organization which aims to reduce phobia related accidents globally … you know, the kind where a musophobe mistakes a child’s toy car for a mouse as it rolls under the display cabinet, jumps onto a bar stool, loses balance and falls off twisting an ankle and smashing a (generously insured) Fabergé egg.
Tess’s boss has given her the task of publishing an information booklet titled “Coulrophobia — controlling your fear of clowns” in eleven different languages.
She’s emailed all the translation services she can find and none of them are prepared to do the translation work for an honorarium. Not even at a reasonably discounted rate. She’s going to have to just ‘put it out there’. Hopefully some of the kind souls in their online support group structures are fully literate in one or more of the eleven languages. Her nightmares haven’t reached somniphobic levels yet, but Tess needs help fast!
She posted an ad in their newsletter and is overwhelmed with the flood of responses she’s received. Now she needs to sift the gold from the gunk.
Thankfully, an ex-technophobe friend of hers has some awesome advice! He recently read about a system that’s able to automate repetitive tasks. It can guide people through a series of hoops, keep perfect track of who’s done what and simplify the administrator’s input to the max! It can order and store the incoming information in a way that gives a perfect overview of everything that’s happening, at any time and regardless of where you are. All you need is an email account and access to a web browser. And Tess doesn’t have to worry about requesting funding to set it up — it’s so affordable that she’s decided to pay it out of her own pocket … such a minor contribution towards helping all those poor coulrophobes out there!
Dystychiphobia’s foreign languages department have already given her some topic-specific translation principles that she easily incorporates into the taskflow in addition to the standard training material that was already in the template.
After making one or two minor adjustments to the taskflow to further personalize it, Tess sets it to work, entering an applicant’s name and email address into a simple form together with a sample piece of text from the booklet. Hitting ‘Save’ automatically emails an invitation to the applicant.
Those applicants who have already worked through the training material can bypass the training and get straight to the task of translating the sample from the booklet. Everyone else is automatically guided through the training material.
Soon the translated samples start to flow into Tess’s mail box. She casts a cursory eye over each one to check which translation language has been chosen, assigns the relevant evaluator and hits ‘Save’.
The evaluators receive the emails, evaluate the translated material and decide whether or not Tess should include the applicant in the list of approved translators. Some translators may be ‘on the right track’ but in need of a little further training before being approved. The evaluator’s decision is indicated with just a click of the mouse: ‘Excellent work. No further training required’, ‘Good, but needs to revise the training’ or ‘Not acceptable’.
The system automatically sends a friendly email declining the services of those who haven’t made the grade. It also contacts those with potential, asking them to revise the study material. Once they’ve read and absorbed it all, Tess is notified that they’ve been approved to receive material to translate — and of course she’s also notified when applicants have been approved outright. All this information is contained in a simplified online database which can also be downloaded in a standard spreadsheet format if she so chooses.
Whilst the template is practically ready to roll, the system is so easy to modify that she might decide to customize the taskflow so that, for example, evaluators can grade the applicants.
And she doesn’t have to hire a programmer to do it!
Tess has fallen in love and, as the good manual says, perfect love casts out fear. With this system, the effort required from Tess is minimized. Now she’s got more time to dream about how to illustrate the booklet, the best way to distribute it — and overcome that lurking xenoglossophobia!
PS: The phobias — explained
- Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns.
- Dystychiphobia is the scientific label for an excessive and irrational fear of accidents.
- Musophobia is a fear of mice or rats.
- Somniphobia is a persistent, abnormal, and unwarranted fear of sleep.
- Technophobia is the fear of advanced technology or complex devices, especially computers.
- Xenoglossophobia is a fear of foreign languages.
This post was written by Stephen Bankart and first appeared on Kotive.