An ad promises that I can call the TTC and ask questions in “over 70 languages”
An ad promises that I can call the TTC and ask questions in “over 70 languages.” How does that work?—Diane Gleiberman, Roncesvalles Village
There isn’t a smidgen of hyperbole in the TTC’s promise. If you have a query in a widely spoken tongue, such as French, Spanish or German, calls are usually fielded by a local staffer. But if you’d like to hear in Swahili when the next 77 bus is expected, the TTC calls for backup in the form of Language Line, a California-based company that does a brisk trade selling translation services around the world. It’s up to the TTC operator to figure out what language the caller is speaking (it can be tricky, but they say they haven’t failed yet). Then the operator calls Language Line, which has interpreters for about 170 languages on tap. (So far, the TTC info line has only had requests in 70 languages, thus the ad’s promise.) The appropriate interpreter is patched into the conference call, usually in less than 20 seconds, and passes information back and forth between the caller and the operator, who actually knows the bus schedule.