The court reporter greeted me and declared “I’m so happy to see you. The last few interpreters have been awful. The agencies have been sending them.”
Hearing stories like these make me glow with pride. It means that my clients and related parties respect the service I perform. They are secure in the knowledge that I will faithfully discharge my duties as interpreter.
The court reporter recounted a Greek agency interpreter who had a five-minute conversation with the deponent after the interpreter rendered a question. Upon the conclusion of the Greek conversation, the interpreter rendered a one-word answer.
It is ludicrous to assume that monolingual individuals are unaware of how much conversation occurred in comparison to the interpretation. Truly, the untrained bilingual individual, regardless of language pair, does a grave disservice to our profession. To boot, this amateur is usually ignorant of the misconceptions and errors she propagates.
Professionals must also hone their skills. Recently, I observed a deposition interpretation. While the interpreter performed adequately, there was a lot of room for improvement. After all, even when the witness mispronounces certain words, those words should be familiar to us. If not, it is our cue to ask counsel to allow interpreter to clarify the term with the deponent. Interpreters also need to project their voices in order for the court reporter to transcribe the record accurately.
Miscarriage of justice is likely to occur with little experience and cheap labor. There is an old adage which applies to clothing and language services; Expensive, but worth it. The question is, do you believe it?