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Inttranet: Linguists of the year 2004

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Inttranet™ (, the global network of professional interpreters and translators, has nominated its "Linguists of the Year" for 2004.

These honorary citations recognise the struggle - and sometimes the personal sacrifice - of linguists both alive and dead who were the focus for media attention during the past year, and have increased public awareness of the importance of linguists and languages as a result.

The Inttranet ™ nominees as Linguists of the Year (in alphabetical order) for 2004 were:

Ahmed Al Alhabi
Betty Cohen
David Crystal
Dr. Ehab Abdelrahim M. Ali
Erich Jarvis
Eva Aariak
Imam Abdul-Munim Younis
John Peabody Harrington
Kim Sun-il
Mohammed al-Joundi
Natalia Dymytryk
Noam Chomsky
Sibel Edmonds


Ahmed Al Alhabi
The Syrian-born translator for the US Air Force was arrested in 2003 by the US military for espionage in connection with al-Quaeda, but as the case progressed, the charges were dropped. One year later Al Alhabi was court-martialled, found innocent and given a dishonourable discharge from the Air Force.

Betty Cohen
The visit to China by the President of the International Federation of Translators in November resulted in offical recognition not only of the importance of translation as a means of opening up the country to the world, but also of the quality which is required. The visit helped bridge the gap between east and west, as well as overcome one of the most persistent obstacles to democracy in the country: translated articles are one of the basic sources of outside information for people in China.

David Crystal
The Welsh linguist invented the Sense" search engine, to produce relevant search results by utilising the meaning of words, rather than statistical algorithms used by other search technology. It is estimated approximately 186 million daily internet searches provide unsatisfactory results. The Sense search engine is one of the steps towards the Semantic Web sought by the inventor of the world-wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Dr. Ehab Abdelrahim M. Ali
In a provocative, even dangerous, interview published in the autumn by Islam Online, Dr. Ehab Abdelrahim M. Ali stated that the real reason why Arab-speaking countries are so far behind in their research effort - some of the states are among the richest nations in the world - was the absence of translation into Arabic of research papers, and the absence of teaching science in schools in Arabic.

Eva Aariak
Nunavut's first languages Commissioner, Eva Aariak, resigned in December 2004, after many unsuccessful efforts to have the Nunavut government pass an Official Languages Act and Inuktitut Protection Act, in order to make Inuktitut the working language of Nunavut.

One of the ways for native languages to survive is to pass legislation making their use possible in schools and in the workplace.

Erich Jarvis


A neurobiologist at Duke University, Erich Jarvis proved that songbirds also contain the same FoxP2 gene as in the human genome. A mutation of the gene may have contributed to the evolution of fluent speech in the human lineage, endowing Homo Sapiens with greater language abilities than those present in other species and driving Neanderthal man to extinction.

Imam Abdul-Munim Younis

The head of the translation department at Mosul University's College of Arts was assassinated by gunmen on 28 August 2004 while driving to her work.

According to the Iraqi Union of University Lecturers, more than 250 academics have been killed in the country since the start of the war, partially for acting as translators, but also in a deliberate attempt to break down any communication between coalition forces and the Iraqi people.

John Peabody Harrington
Harrington travelled the West of the USA from 1907 to 1947, finding the last speakers of ancient Native American tongues and writing down their words and customs. His work is now regarded as a Rosetta stone, capable of unlocking dozens of all-but-forgotten Indian languages. A million pages of notes are now being transcribed into electronic documents, a task that is expected to take 20 years.

Kim Sun-il
33-year-old Kim Sun-il, a translator from South Korea, was beheaded in June in Iraq after the Korean government rejected his kidnappers' demands to withdraw the 2,800 soldiers deployed by Korea to Iraq. Mohammed al-Joundi

One of the diminishing numbers of "fixers" in Iraq - so named because the non-professional interpreters provide a vital communication link between the coalition forces and the Iraqi people - Syrian-born Mohammed al-Joundi was held hostage for more than 3 months in Falludja before being rescued by US marines.

Natalya Dymytryk
Although in contradiction with her professional ethic as a sign-language interpreter, Natalya Dymytryk refused to translate the false November election results in Ukraine on the government-run TV channel for which she worked. For the 60,000-strong deaf comunity in Ukraine, the 47-year old mother of two is a rare source of information: only the UT-1 television channel provides simultaneous interpretation services for the deaf.

Noam Chomsky
Whether or not you agree with the opinions of one of the most outspoken critics of American foreign policy, the celebrated professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) still frequently made the news for his professional work as well as his politics, and kept the word linguist in the public eye more than anyone else.

Sibel Edmonds
A high-level Farsi translator for the FBI, Sibel Edmonds was fired after revealing cover-ups of warnings prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks due to "intentional mistranslation of intelligence", as well as inadequate quality assurance in the hiring and use of linguists by the Agency. Since its re-election, the US administration has increased the translation budget for the FBI and the CIA by 50%.


The Inttranet ™ ( is a multilingual portal (currently available in 37 languages) designed by and for professional interpreters and translators from 26 countries in 2000, and providing a complete range of dedicated features and services, all of which are interoperable in each language.

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