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How language barriers impact peace and negotiations

There are many ways in which language barriers can impact and affect the everyday functioning of life. From problems communicating with one’s peers to ascertaining a job, these are some of the more minor of the language barriers problems. Yet, these minute problems can lead to bigger issues as well. For instance, language barriers can greatly impact governments and their communications with one another. This becomes especially problematic when it comes to situations in which peace or negotiations are at stake. For that reason, the following information explains just how language barriers impact the success of peace negotiations and the factors that can lead them to a problematic end.


One of the greatest ways that language barriers impact peace is through the entrance of personal or national pride into a debate or confrontation. A group, culture, or country’s language is a point of group esteem. It is more than just about communication but a signifier of a sort of cohesiveness among people. For example, emigrants from one region of the world to another who bring with them their own language abilities are instantaneously brought into a group of common bonding. No matter how heterogeneous the group itself is, the cohesiveness that comes from the ability to communicate with one another is a shared representation of their culture. When conflicts arise and language barriers or differences are present, it can appear as a personal affront to one group if another tries to change or define its usage. In this way, language barriers can greatly impact the success of peace efforts.


Language is essential to finding a mutual agreement on any issue. If individuals trying to negotiate or communicate do not share the same language, it is not impossible for mutual agreement to take place but it becomes extremely stressful and can be damaging to the relationship if not handled properly. For that reason, when it comes to language barriers in negotiations of peace or even in conversations regarding other issues between or within governments, it can be extremely difficult for an agreement to be reached if there is no commonality in languages. Interpreters can serve as a resource in these situations, if they are utilized properly. Often, though, these individuals can add third parties to conversations and this can be a serious concern when a government is dealing with an issue as important as peace negotiations. There may also be serious security considerations that will occur and this means that these individual interpreters cannot enter into the discussion at all, limiting the abilities for language barriers to be overcome.


At the heart of both the issues of pride and communication in relation to peace and language barriers is the frustration that develops between two negotiating entities. If you are seeking peace or peace through conversation and language is an issue, there will be a frustration that results that can stifle any potential dialogue. In this way, then, frustration is the root cause of problems with language barriers and the reason that many negotiations stall in their efforts to find and obtain peace.


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