Common Interpretation and Translation Issues That Can Affect the Integrity of the Court Record

You may not consider this case to be different than any other. You have taken two different depositions in a different language, but your interpreter was on hand to provide a translation. You’ve gathered up your recordings and are about to mail them to your third-party transcription service…but are you sure there won’t be noticeable changes in the written version of the testimony?

Why Attorneys Should Think Twice About Transcriptionists in Foreign-Language Cases

There are many things to consider before asking a third party to transcribe a foreign language deposition. Even if the deposition was taken with a live translator on hand, there are still plenty of transcription mistakes that may prove disastrous for your case, including:

  • Interpreter selection. Translators are often called “interpreters” for a specific reason: they are giving an interpretation of the witness’s words, rather than an exact definition. Translating a conversation between languages is a complex process, and may involve slang, names, or phrases with no direct correlation in English. Your choice of interpreter could drastically change the strength, nuance, or even meaning of the words a witness uses.
  • Transcriptionist errors. Even after a conversation has been interpreted, it must go to a court transcriptionist to be entered into the court record. This may add another level of security for the integrity of the record, but has its own potential for mistakes. A transcriptionist who is unfamiliar with the language used may misidentify a critical word, such as reading “embarazada” as embarrassed instead of pregnant.
  • Jury considerations. Courts have differing views on how a foreign language transcript may be used in court. For instance, some attorneys request that the jury be allowed to hear a recording of the deposition or watch a subtitled video of the session, as this can convey the witness’s mood and feelings more accurately than a written translation. The jury may also be instructed to question the accuracy of the translation rather than accept it as fact, and may consider the training and experience of the translator as part of their deliberations.

We Can Provide One-Stop Translation and Transcription Services

The fact of the matter is, the more parties who have a hand in your witness’s testimony, the more convoluted it may become to parse what the witness really meant. At Casamo & Associates, we have partnered our staff of experienced court reporters with trusted translators to ensure the integrity of your clients’ testimony. We can even host your foreign or long-distance clients in our updated conference room, create a real-time transcript for your deposition, and become your one-stop shop for all of your deposition needs. Call us today at (703) 837-0076 for immediate assistance. You can also use our online scheduler to explain which services you require.

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