Monday, April 30, 2007

Speaking --------- like a native

I spent last week in Phoenix, the city where I was raised, and was able to talk with my brother, who owns Northwest Insurance Agency. The agency was started by my parents and has been in business for 33 years. I'm very proud of the legacy my parents left us and proud of my brother's achievements since taking over. (Why aren't I an agent, you might ask? Because my mother warned me never to go into claims, so of course, I did.)

When we moved to Phoenix in 1957, the population, he estimates, was about 100,000. Today the population of Maricopa County only, according to the 2005 census, was 3.9 million. Of that number, 1.3 million are Hispanic. The demographics speak loudly. Mainly in Spanish.

Arizona isn't the only state with this trend. However, working with non-English speaking clients is fraught with liability for any insurance agent. While translators generally, according to linguists, operate on a "good-faith basis" and usually don't carry errors & omissions insurance, agents who work with clients who speak other than the agent's native language must be extremely careful when servicing populations speaking languages other than English.

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