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The Official Court Interpreter Comfort Scale
Thread poster: Anne Lee

Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:27
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
May 29, 2007

you can find an interesting classification of situations
court interpreters find themselves in, from 'easy peasy' to downright awkward. A hilarious and very true-to-life read that definitely strikes a chord with me, based on my own experience as a court interpreter.

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Agnieszka Hayward
Local time: 10:27
German to Polish
+ ...
lovely May 29, 2007

thanks for sharing, Anne.

Me, I neither have interpreted at a court nor intend to ever do so. (this is 1 of the reasons why I haven't become a certified/ sworn interpreter - required in Poland for court interpreting).

But what you posted in a way applies to other, even less formal or less stressful situations in an interpreter's life.


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:27
English to Spanish
+ ...
Loved it! May 29, 2007

Actually, I am in the process of getting certified (oral exam in August....)

I have one to add:

Interpreting in Federal Court in Puerto Rico
EVERYONE IS BILINGUAL: except for the defendants, witnessess and maybe some members of the jury (all speak Spanish, for probably most of them it's their native language and their English is so so) and probably the transcriber who, of course, only understands English...

So EVERYONE is mentally interpreting and checking that what you say is what they believe is correct.

Once I was observing a trial, this happened:

1. The defense lawyer (who spoke an almost inintelligible English) asks a question from the witness that he knows the answer is a very vulgar expression. ("What did she say when you left?")
2. The witness replies, shyly, saying the very vulgar expression. ("¡Ahí te dejo, bellaca!")
3. Before the interpreter opens his mouth, the judge cuts in and translated it out loud but WRONG!!!. ("I'm leaving, bitch!")
4. Meanwhile, the interpreter is sitting there, probably not knowing what to do: should he correct the judge?
5. The defense lawyer tells the judge what he said is not the correct translation. ("Bellaca means horny" -in Puerto Rican Spanish)
6. The judge asks the interpreter, who supports what the defense attorney said. (She said "I'm leaving you there, horny")

That's scary...

[Edited at 2007-05-30 12:05]

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