I was observing some court proceedings at one time. The interpreter was busy at another court room and the attorneys started talking amongst themselves saying: “You would think they would have more interpreters”, the other attorney replied with a sarcastic tone: “It’s because we don’t have enough bilingual people in the area.” At this, everyone started laughing. Even I got a smile on my face at his joke.
Interpreting is like playing the piano
But I understood something that they don’t. Being bilingual does not make you an interpreter. Just as being able to play the clarinet doesn’t make you a piano player. There are some extra skills that are required to be able to go back and forth from one language to another. For consecutive interpretation you also have to develop your memory skills to be able to remember long passages to not interrupt the flow of the conversation.
For all of those who do play the piano, you can relate a bit. The difference between playing with one hand and both at the same time requires that you practice and master the skill. To be able to do it at a proficient level this takes years of practice. The same applies to interpreting. Each language is like a hand on the piano. You can use them easily when they are independent of each other, but once you put them together, it requires mastery to be able to perform at a proficient level. This is the level that is required from Certified Court Interpreters.
You wouldn’t use a beginning piano student to perform at a concert where you would charge for a ticket. So why do some people think it is ok to contract bilingual people to do interpretations and translations. Sometimes they have children interpret for their parents because they figure it is good enough, after all, they are bilingual.
What is sad about this is that the person hiring the interpreter can not judge the quality of the interpretation because they themselves do not speak the other language.
So how can they make sure that they are communicating effectively? Well many states have joined the National Center for State Courts. States are training, testing and certifying court interpreters.
What’s really wonderful about this is that now regular people can distinguish between good quality interpreters and bilingual people who may or may not be able to perform at the level needed.
Each state has a registry or roster of Certified Interpreters that anyone can have access to.
When attorneys and other people contract Certified Interpreters they protect themselves from something simple like a small communication problem up to big law suits that can come back to haunt you because of lack of communication.
Investing in a Certified Interpreter gives people, who know the difference, peace of mind and later on freedom from problems that may have stemmed from errors in the interpretation.
Email us today at Info@certifiedspanishinterpreters.com to get a Spanish Court Certified Interpreter scheduled