Client Success Story: A Scarce Culture and a Rare Language Translation – MTI America

Client Success Story: A Scarce Culture and a Rare Language Translation

By: Andrea Davila, Supervisor, Language Services

A 60-year-old supermarket warehouse worker severely injured his dominant hand while falling from a forklift in a California warehouse.  After months of failed conservative treatment, he was scheduled to undergo a medical evaluation to explore other treatment options and assess any loss of use, range of motion, etc. Understanding the injured worker only spoke lu Mein, the adjuster needed an interpreter for the appointment.

Lu Mien Background

The residents of lu Mien are the Southeast Asian subset of the Yao People, a minority population from China. Many fled to Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, displaced by the Vietnam War, and their dialect incorporates influences from the Lao and Thai languages.  As a result, the people of Yao have no fixed country and many variations between languages and dialects.  Lu Mien is so rare that only 0.015% of people in the United States can speak it, so one can imagine the challenge faced when locating an interpreter.

Searching for an Interpreter

MTI was up for the challenge and went to great lengths to locate an interpreter fluent in lu Mein in the California region.  Shortly after celebrating a victory in locating an interpreter however, MTI learned the interpreter had a conflict and would not be available at the scheduled date and time of the medical evaluation. MTI used their pool of resources which included trusted vendors, clients, and other various industry experts and ultimately expanded their search outside of the California bay area.  MTI located a Colorado-based interpreter and forged to find a date and time for the medical evaluation which was suitable for all parties.  Unfortunately, MTI received a call from the injured worker’s employer alerting them the Colorado-based interpreter was not clearly grasped by the injured worker.  Working with the Colorado-based interpreter and the injured worker, MTI confirmed that (while the injured worker was speaking lu Mien) his language is Lao’s version of lu Mien, which is a different dialect of lu Mien.

Unwavering Commitment

Fortunately, MTI was able to locate three other Lu Mien interpreters in the United States and given a significant time crunch, everyone crossed their fingers tightly in hopes one of the three interpreters spoke the same dialect as the injured worker.  The first interpreter did not speak the same dialect and hopes began to dwindle after the second interpreter was unsuccessful, too.  But MTI held onto their unwavering commitment to their client and the injured worker (after all, the injured worker had already been through enough and certainly did not need the added stress of a language barrier) and pressed forward with the third interpreter.

There is an old cliché that states the third time is a charm and it fits the ending of this story brilliantly.  The third interpreter not only spoke lu Mien with the correct dialect but was also able to write the language.  In fact, he was a published author, and the injured worker was a fan of his work and watched his videos on YouTube!  This admiration certainly helped to build rapport and trust, two critical elements needed in workers’ compensation claims to avoid attorney involvement and unnecessary litigation.

Thanks to the MTI Translation Team and their unwavering commitment to the client and the injured worker, MTI is proud to share this success story.