Demand for Russian Outside US-Russia Relations

Envelope with Russian handwriting
By StepanovSOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

I am sometimes asked how the interactions between Russia and the US will affect the demand for Russian translation and interpreting. The political climate certainly impacts language services by affecting trade and international cooperation. However, English and Russian are not the exclusive purview of Russia and the US. Here are some areas where Russian is needed independently of US-Russian relations.

International Organizations

Russian is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. As such, most documents produced in other languages will need to be translated into it. For instance, the staff of the UN Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) includes “translators, revisers and verbatim reporters, interpreters and editors, [and] proofreaders.”

Language Access Laws

In the United States, translation into Russian — or other languages — may be needed to comply with the law. Specifically, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of national origin by government agencies that receive federal funds. This definition has been interpreted to include limited English proficient (LEP) people, meaning that any hospital, government office, or other agency receiving federal funding needs to “take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access” for LEP people.

According to the LEP Federal Interagency Website,

Vital documents must be translated when a significant number or percentage of the population eligible to be served, or likely to be directly affected by the program/activity, needs services or information in a language other than English to communicate effectively.

In other words, Russian translation (and interpreting) may be needed in order to satisfy a US legal requirement for areas and institutions that have a large Russian-speaking LEP population.

Cyrillic street sign
By Geoff [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Countries Other Than Russia

Translation into Russian may also be needed for business with companies and government bodies in other countries that use Russian, including Belarus and Kazakhstan. In addition, personal documents like birth certificates of people currently living in such countries as Ukraine may be in Russian if they were issued in the former USSR.

In the end, while we in the US may think of Russian translation as dependent on US-Russian relations, there are several areas where Russian is needed regardless of the political climate. Feel free to get in touch about your Russian translation needs.

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