What does the word profession mean? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary lists the following definitions: a type of job that requires special education, training, or skill; a calling requiring specialized expertise and often long and intensive academic preparation. Can interpretation and translation claim to be professions? What say you?
Can a regular bilingual person skillfully interpret a week-long trial? Of course not. That person lacks (1) knowledge of court terminology, (2) the practice tools to sharpen her abilities, and (3) the essential skills to produce an accurate rendition of the testimony. Would you send a recent law school graduate to try a malpractice lawsuit? Is the reasoning, “well he’s good enough” good enough for you? Absolutely not. If you wouldn’t fetch a college student from the street and have him defend the claim, then for the love of integrity, why ever would you use someone whose language ability hasn’t been vetted?
Those who practice interpreting and translating attend professional development events. These linguists invest their main resources, time and money, to travel and attend conference. My clients pay me very good money for the top-notch service I provide them. If I were to neglect my training and continuing education, in a sense, I would defraud these excellent customers. Therefore, this year I attended the 35th conference of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators in Las Vegas, Nevada.
How many common people (monolingual or multilingual) grasp what probate court and correctional terminology are? Just as personal injury attorneys and human resources managers attend seminars, so do expert interpreters. Just what does the end user of interpreting and translation services receive? Providers who are skilled in:
- Differences in Criminal and Civil Terminology
- Juvenile Court Interpreting
- Conference Interpreting
- Educating the Bench and Bar
- Translation Role in Immigration Process
- Sight Translation
One interesting session I attended was Translating Probate Terms into Spanish. Probate court is where the estate of the decedent (the dearly departed) is administered and settled, whether or not person left a last will and testament. In one hour, the presenter reviewed approximately 145 terms. It was challenging to maintain the pace, considering that there were questions about what these fine terms meant in English. Abatement, intestate, final accounting and settlement are not banal words. Why comprehend this terminology? An heir may live in a different country; thereby necessitating translation. The wrong translation can unwittingly deplete an estate or an heir of rightful assets.
Interpreting within the court system can be a frightening experience. However, conditionally approved and certified/licensed interpreters can proficiently navigate that environment. Why do you need this? A bilingual person can have a nervous breakdown, walk out, fake it, or a combination of all these negative reactions. Professional interpreters know what their job entails. No one needs to tell them how to practice interpreting, just like no one tells doctors how to practice medicine or attorneys how to practice law. Interpreters cannot just take a file and explain it to the LEP individual. That is tantamount to the unauthorized practice of law, which is against the professional code of ethics. It is a felony in South Carolina and New York, and a misdemeanor in California.
With great pride, my speaker debut at NAJIT on Simultaneous Exercises Without Interpreting took place. As a certified court interpreter and a board member of the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters, I stood proud before my esteemed colleagues and shared information on voice quality, paremiology, idioms, sayings, and shadowing. After the conference, I received a PDF of the evaluations. Many colleagues applauded my efforts, and one is looking forward to next year’s presentation.
Why should you hire professional interpreters and pay their fees? These clever saying provide your answers.
If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys
Doing it right is cheaper than doing it over
Expensive but worth it