Bamako, Mali - Bonnie MacEvoy, anesthesiologist: To help bridge the linguistic divide, we have translators who translate between English to French, French to Bambara and back again. I did some translating and other than telling one patient to open his leg and another to give me his teeth, was able to make some headway.
I noticed that when Zacharia (one of the translators) went from French to Bambara, he retained the word "minuit" (midnight). I asked him if there was not a word in Bambara for midnight, and he said that before "outsiders" came, the locals only referred to early night (just after sunset), middle night (while sleeping), and end of night, (just before dawn). So they simply adopted the new word for the new concept of specific time. This gentleman is a local doctor and he also explained to me that after the third year of medical training, all training is conducted in French. There were no Bambara words to cover subjects at the end of training. He proudly said that he has been the first person in Mali to complete his medical training in Bambara, that he helped pioneer the necessary words and teachings to keep the local language alive in the medical profession.