Lost in Interpretation

By: Jane Merrow

A friend of mine has just finished doing jury duty. None of the people involved was English, nor spoke English and this was taking place in an English Court. So there were interpreters. One of the interpreters was not doing a very good job and this created some confusion in presenting the evidence.

If the interpreting is not accurate and of a high standard, it could affect the outcome of the case. This highlights the importance of qualified and quality interpreters and an understanding of the job, when they are taken on.

Interpreting and translating are very responsible professions, as so much can be lost in a bad translation. What if a medical translation is inaccurate and surgery is involved! Or a person is working from a manual, which has not been properly translated. In interpretation, getting the feeling of what is being said is so important as well as the literal interpretation, although interpreters cannot inject their own view of the situation. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, defines an interpreter as "one who translates orally for parties conversing in different languages." Additionally an interpreter must understand the cultural differences of the people involved and be able to present those differences properly.

It is quite amazing how casually some people looking for , assume that they can easily translate or interpret without any proper training and qualification. It is equally amazing that some professional bodies like a Court can assume that people applying to interpret or translate for them can do so, just because they say they can.

It is incumbent on those taking on interpreters and translators, to ensure that the people are qualified and responsible professionals, who can do the job, they do have a duty of care just like any professional to do their very qualified best for those, for whom they are working. We must take care of those vulnerable members of society!
?languagejobs4u.com 2007

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