Thursday, August 16, 2007

Interpreters Essential to Unlocking Legal Battles

A wonderful article by Ernesto Londoño just ran in today's Washington Post about the importance of interpreters in our nation's court system. Much of the article falls directly in line with the mission of the From Our Lips project - to demonstrate the value of interpreters in society.

As interpreters, we have become accustomed to reading items in the media that demonstrate a lack of understanding about the importance of our work. For this reason, it is a refreshing change to see an article of this nature.

Below, I am pasting a few key lines from the article:

The job is tougher than many think, court interpreters say, and for too long it has wrongly been perceived as a task any bilingual person can perform.

"People still believe that if you're bilingual that's sufficient for being an interpreter," said Isabel Framer, a court interpreter and chair of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.

Performing the job requires the ability to interpret simultaneously for long periods of time, paying close attention to detail, emphasis and meaning. An understanding of the judicial process and a solid grasp of forensic and scientific terms -- as well as slang, which often varies from country to country -- is also crucial.

"If the interpreter is not competent, it will render everyone incompetent," Framer said. "None of the officers of the court can carry out their jobs."

I am absolutely delighted to see an article of this nature in a newspaper like the Post.

Efforts like these help the public in general to become more familiar with the reality of interpreting. Interpreters enable multicultural societies, like the United States, to function efficiently and effectively. In the case of our nation's court system, equal access to justice would simply not be possible without interpreters.

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