The Navajo code talkers, recruited by the US Marine Corps during World War II, devised the encryption of 411 Navajo terms in order to protect the information transmitted by radio between US officers. In order to achieve this purpose, they resorted to strategies from translation, interpreting, sight translation as well as to the extension of an alphabet based on reduplication of the more frequent letters of the English alphabet. The strategies used for codification created several layers of concealed meanings that were not easily broken by anyone except those who had learned and memorized the Navajo code. The hermetic nature of the specialized Navajo code was instrumental in protecting crucial information in the planning of war strategies. This article describes the process of encryption and gives examples of translation and equivalence of terms and of the development of terms for which there was no equivalence. It discusses the differences and similarities between translation, interpreting and encryption and focuses on the intersection of code talkers, translators and interpreters. It shows the crucial role that an indigenous language played in enabling classified communication to lead to an unprecedented victory of the United States over the enemy.
|Translated title of the contribution||The Navajo Code Talkers: Strategies of Translation, Interpreting and Encryption|
|Journal||International Journal of the Sociology of Language|
|Publication status||Published - 22 Feb 2011|