How bad translation by court interpreters can turn misunderstanding into injustice

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Mohamed Alderwish
Local time: 17:20
English to Arabic
+ ...
Superlative article Aug 27, 2016

I am a Court Interpreter and it hit the nail on the head.

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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 17:20
Romanian to English
+ ...
while I agree that bad interpreting can lead to miscarriage of justice ... Aug 27, 2016

the scenario presented by Rebecca Breitsch in the PBS Newshour is clearly made up. Why? A defendant, even before a Traffic Court judge, doesn't sit and yell "from the back of the courtroom" - this is not the protocol.

I start getting tired of the "certified interpreter" thing. People who write this kind of articles have in mind only Spanish interpreters. Guess what? In the USA there are over 300 spoken languages. It is true that there are about 35,000 Spanish court interpreters who had/have the opportunity to take a certification exam, and that there are a little more than 3,500 court interpreters for the other languages who don't have the opportunity to take a certification exam in their language pair. It is not our fault that there is no exam available. Most of us, "the others", although we are not certified, we can provide high quality court interpreting. It is the time to stop calling us "noncertified", "unprofessional" etc.

"Most states certify court interpreters, requiring that they pass a test to demonstrate their language skills. But many state certification tests aren’t as rigorous as the federal one" - Really? Where did the author get that from? Is the author aware that in the US the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination is offered for Spanish/English testing only? Any other non-Spanish court interpreter who claims in court to be federally certified commits perjury. There are some states that provide certification exams for Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, French, German and a few others, but still, the vast majority is not certified. Are we worthless? For the last 15 years I have been interpreting in federal courts all over the country and not only I did not receive a single complaint, but I was asked to come again and again travelling hundreds of miles.

I think that it is the time to stop with this nonsense.

Lee


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:20
Russian to English
+ ...
There are many state certified interpreters, or as some states call it approved court interpreters Aug 28, 2016

who have to take quite difficult written and oral exams to be authorized to interpret in courts, not just Spanish. Polish and Russian, too and many other languages, probably not Romanian. The more rare languages are not on the list. To prove credentials may be enough.

As to the Federal Court, you are right. Only credentials and background check is required, and being a state interpreter helps. They do not commit perjury though, those that say that they are certified by the Federal Court, since thy do not testify under oath, I guess. Some may state it on their resumes. They just slightly misrepresent the status quo.


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 17:20
Romanian to English
+ ...
sorry, it is perjury Aug 28, 2016

The interpreter is sworn in and after that, the parties do the "voir dire". If the non-Spanish interpreter states in federal court that he is federally certified (implied), he commits perjury.

I agree with you. As I mentioned in my first post, there are many states that provide exams for some languages and these interpreters are OK if they state that they are certified, but only in state courts, not in federal court. There is a distinction between them.

I also agree with the terms "approved", "tested", "skilled" etc, but let's get rid of the "noncertified = nonprofessional"

The Federal Certification Exam is a very tough exam and the passing rate, if I am not mistaken, is about 9%!

Lee

[Edited at 2016-08-28 13:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-08-28 20:13 GMT]


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 17:20
Romanian to English
+ ...
An interesting insight into the Fed.Certification exam Aug 30, 2016

Although it was written in a blog, the Jenner sisters are well known and respected court interpreters.

Enjoy the article: http://translationtimes.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-results-federal-court-interpreting.html


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