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Ethic dilemmas for interpreters
Thread poster: LidiaCentrich

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Latvian
+ ...
Good example, Inga Jul 16

I can imagine that the duty of an ordinary citizen can often clash with the duty of an interpreter.

Remembering the famous phrase that the translation is not about words, it’s about what the words are about, I would say that it makes sense to add additional information while interpreting. If a person claims to be a native of one place but cannot even pronounce the name of that place like local people do, how do you make it clear to the court? Maybe you just add a single remark “the person does not speak like someone from that place”.


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mariealpilles  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:57
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Ethic dilemmas Jul 16

The interpreter is the voice of both sides, but in no way is the interpreter there to add some details or explanations - a professional judge would actually shut the interpreter off. The interpreter, even if he/she knows the person is lying, is only there to express in the language the others do not speak what is being said. He/she is a "machine" and he can inform the lawyer afterwards maybe, but does have to stand aloof from getting involved.

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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Nope Jul 16

Kaspars Melkis wrote:

I can imagine that the duty of an ordinary citizen can often clash with the duty of an interpreter.

Remembering the famous phrase that the translation is not about words, it’s about what the words are about, I would say that it makes sense to add additional information while interpreting. If a person claims to be a native of one place but cannot even pronounce the name of that place like local people do, how do you make it clear to the court? Maybe you just add a single remark “the person does not speak like someone from that place”.


It is up to the authorities to find or ask for the relevant documentation.

Kaspars, have you had formal training in legal/public service interpreting?


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
No way Jul 16

Inga Petkelyte wrote:


I didn't say anything to the judge but it must have been written on my face as the lady judge asked me, "What do you think?"
Thinking better, we should report false declarations - not as interpreters but as citizens.


First of all: Interpreters job is a communication job. The main task of an interpreter is to provide communcation and not to just translate words. Then you work for your customer (court in this case, not for a "criminal person"). Your interpreters duty and your citizens duty is to inform the judge about any lie you are aware of. If you are informed about any criminal act (and it was a criminal act), you are obliged to inform the authorities about it. Both as a citizen and as an interpreter. It is also a part of the interpreters declaration to work for courts and police.
I am really astonished, that so many of you think that it is professional or ethical to cover anyone..


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:57
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Tells who? Jul 16

erika rubinstein wrote:

First of all: Interpreters job is a communication job. The main task of an interpreter is to provide communcation and not to just translate words. Then you work for your customer (court in this case, not for a "criminal person"). Your interpreters duty and your citizens duty is to inform the judge about any lie you are aware of. If you are informed about any criminal act (and it was a criminal act), you are obliged to inform the authorities about it. Both as a citizen and as an interpreter. It is also a part of the interpreters declaration to work for courts and police.
I am really astonished, that so many of you think that it is professional or ethical to cover anyone..


Each time I interpret at court, I swear an oath and bind myself to providing a faithful and correct oral translation - nothing more, nothing less. I am a language expert there, not an investigator. I believe, giving our own opinions in the cours of interpreting would be misleading and distractive for the judges and prosecutors. An iterrogation/hearing is not a place neither time for our opinions, not in a direct way at least.
What we can do is to report the obvious lies after the session of our services, if the court doesn't find that out themselves.
That has been my understanding yet I am going to ask the court officers next time.


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Paweł Hamerski
Poland
Local time: 16:57
English to Polish
+ ...
It is a simple case - these people did not speak Lithuanian or maybe a little and your duty was to Jul 24

immediately notify the judge about the fact. Then it is up to the judge to use this fact.

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