Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Police run into language barrier

Bismarck Tribune

Police could have used English subtitles to get to the bottom of assault allegations in Bismarck on Sunday.

Lt. Dan Donlin said officers responded to a report of a fight at a Bismarck Chinese food restaurant on Sunday shortly after 11 a.m.

Donlin said four people were involved in the fight, but none of them spoke English.

From what police could gather, two women, 42 and 28, had been arguing, and two men, 50 and 38, tried to intervene, Donlin said. The two men apparently started pushing and shoving each other, he said.

Police contacted three Chinese translators, but the translators couldn't understand any of the involved parties, Donlin said.

He said the four people may have been speaking Chinese dialects that were unknown to the translators.

"It's problematic when you can't communicate what happened,"Donlin said.

One of the subjects gave a written statement, but it was written in Chinese, so no one could read it, Donlin said.

The incident is still being investigated, Donlin said. He said the matter will be turned over to the Bismarck city attorney's office.

As Bismarck becomes more diversified, Donlin said similar problems likely will become more common.

For many law enforcement agencies, speaking another language is a hiring point, he said.

Officers already receive training in Spanish commands, Donlin said.

(Reach reporter Jenny Michael at 250-8225 or jenny.michael@;bismarcktribune.com)



Non English People Living in America wrote on May 23, 2006 4:38 PM:"I do not support a business that does not support the language of this wonderful country. Look at front windows and doors at our local Lowe's in North Bismarck - they have printing every where in English and another language. What language is this? Spanish? What about all the other nationalities living here in our community – why isn’t their language not posted everywhere too? Are they less than the Mexican people? What about when calling a business and the first thing you hear is “for English press 1”. I am in America and the only language is English. "

sharon wrote on May 23, 2006 3:55 PM:"don't go to restaurants that don't speak English and you run them out of town. Simple enough for me."

JoAnn wrote on May 23, 2006 3:49 PM:"If they don't want to learn English then go to a restaurant in Bismarck that people speak English and put them out of business. I just got back from Holland and everything was in dutch including the restaurants. If I go into a restaurant in the United States and the people do not speak English. I walk out. Try it!"

To Yuma wrote on May 23, 2006 3:34 PM:"What kind of problem are you talking about? Please explain more."

Legal vs. illegal immigrants wrote on May 23, 2006 3:31 PM:"To Mr. C – Yes our elders were immigrants but they were LEGAL immigrants. Also they learned the American ways which included the English language. If English is not the most common language then what language is it? We should not have to adapt to the many languages the world has to offer while being in America. Sounds that if they come to this country they should adapt to the American ways. I welcome everyone as long as they are respectful, law abiding, kind, compassionate people and that does include using the English language while LIVING here."

Yuma wrote on May 23, 2006 3:22 PM:"You folks think you have problems? Try living in Yuma AZ. NOW THIS IS A PROBLEM AND ITS COMING YOUR WAY!"

Re respectful wrote on May 23, 2006 2:58 PM:"I have been in a few of the Chinese restaurants in Bismarck and there are so many of their employees that if you ask a question will say, “no English”. All I can think is “GO HOME then” where you won’t come across people that except English out the people living her in America. How disrespectful can they be, thinking we want to learn every language there is when we live in America and the language is English. If I traveled to another country to just visit, I would try hard to learn their language before going there. It is common curiosity for them and their culture and a sign of respect for them. "

Attention Bismarck Police wrote on May 23, 2006 2:51 PM:"Check all of the Asian restaurants and stores in Bismarck. We don’t want the “illegal aliens” living in our community. We appreciate all that you do to help to keep our city clean and crime free."

Send them back.... wrote on May 23, 2006 2:47 PM:"Are these people legally in the United States? If not send them back to where they come from."

Be a Proud American wrote on May 23, 2006 2:40 PM:"If you live in America then you should learn and use the English language just like all of our ancestors did. We are discrediting being Americans if we continue to let other nationalities rule America with their languages. If we continue as we are going every store, every sign, every menu, every map, everywhere you look and everyone in every job will have to speak, read and write 50+ languages. I am glad people from all over the world want to live here in American but then live like an American, speak, read and write the English language. I live in America and I except everyone that lives here to use English unless they are just visiting this country. The key words here is lives here. How many times do you go in to an Asian restaurant/buffet and there may be only a couple people that understand and speak English. Are the other people legally in the United States? It is time to have some green-cards and ids checked and remove all the illegal aliens here in the USA. "

Mr. C. wrote on May 23, 2006 2:35 PM:"these comments are exactly what i'd expect from closed minds how many forget or have asked their elders about the difficult time they had when they were immingrants. are we getting so close minded that we think if they don't speak english they are not welcome? It is my understanding that english is actually not the most common language in this country so we need to be more diverse to fit in because english speaking people are becoming the minority or we will learn real quick what it feels like to be treated like a minority. "

Couldn't understand them... wrote on May 23, 2006 12:48 PM:"They don't speak English and live in the United States...why should our police department have to learn their language or the language of any other culture. They live here--they learn our culture. We shouldn't have to accomodate them. They don't learn--buh-bye!"

John wrote on May 23, 2006 12:41 PM:"i can translate it for You..toss them back over the wall..that takes care of the problem"

Gringo wrote on May 23, 2006 12:01 PM:"Hey, look on the bright side. These people were speaking Chinese and having a domestic dispute instead of speaking Spanish and committing a burglary or a carjacking."

Dave Bundy, editor wrote on May 23, 2006 10:01 AM:"To Betty: We use said because it is neutral. Alleged, claimed, asserted, maintained and lots of other words send another message along with the quote. We try to avoid that by using the most neutral word. I get a lot more complaints about bias than I do about us using boring words."

Betty wrote on May 23, 2006 9:53 AM:"I don't know who writes up these news reports for the Tribune, but just count up the number of "saids" in one article. There are others verbs to use besides "said". It would make the article more interesting."

Steved N. wrote on May 23, 2006 7:49 AM:"I hope they checked their visas and green cards"


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