Making the Most of Your Next Transcription Involving an Interpreter

Court reporters are some of the most hard-working members of the legal team. In addition to remaining 100 percent impartial throughout every single case they transcribe, they’re also held to an outrageously impeccable standard. In order for a transcriptionist to make a career out of court reporting, she must showcase grammar, listening, and organizational skills that even many attorneys lack.

For all the required skills court reporters need to master, one skill that isn’t required is a fluent knowledge of all foreign languages and dialects, including sign language. Although many court reporters are bi- and trilingual, it’s impossible to know every language in which a witness may choose to speak. Court reporters must rely on interpreters to accurately and completely translate questions and answers during depositions that involve foreign language speakers and sign language responses. Unfortunately, this dependency can cause confusion and frustration if an understanding between court reporter and interpreter isn’t fully addressed.

Therefore, whether you’re an attorney, interpreter, or court reporter, in order to get an accurate transcript you need to be able to communicate your needs and concerns to one another before the deposition begins.

Translation-dictionary-entryGetting on the Same Page to Secure Accuracy in Translation and Transcription

As a court reporter, before the deposition or proceeding starts, it is important to address the interpreter in order to get a better understanding of how she translates. As an attorney, it’s important that your court reporter and interpreter are on the same page. To help produce a strong and accurate transcript, the following suggestions on how to communicate with the interpreter can be beneficial to court reporters, attorneys, and interpreters alike;

  • Ask the interpreter how he prefers to translate: first person or third person. If he does not have a preference, suggest he uses first person as it will be easier for you to transcribe while also producing a smoother transcript. Most interpreters translate in the first person, but you should never assume as it could create confusion and added work for you later if you have to go back and change pronouns.
  • Ask the interpreter to preface any statements that he makes on his own behalf with, “This is the interpreter speaking,” or at otherwise bring attention to the fact that he is no longer translating for the witness. This will help prevent any confusion that may arise as a result of a first-person translation.
  • Confirm the language the interpreter will be translating, as this is the language the court reporter will use in the oath. For example, if the witness is Portuguese, then the interpreter’s oath would read “I (the interpreter) solemnly swear that I’ll interpret the following questions from English into Portuguese and the answers from Portuguese into English to the best of my ability.”
  • Likewise, if the interpreter is translating questions and answers into sign language, the same oath must be modified to include interpreting actions accurately and completely.

The Importance of Understanding: “Sí, Nyet, B’fhéidir?” (“Yes, No, Maybe?”)

Whether you’re an attorney or a court reporter, we’d like to know how you feel about the importance of deposition translation and transcription. Should interpreters be better trained for taking depositions? Should court reporters be required to speak multiple languages in order to keep up? Is it reasonable for court reporters to ask the interpreter questions to clarify understanding?

In the comment section provided, please share your thoughts, concerns, and opinions on interpreters and court reporting.

As court reporters at Casamo and Associates, we pride ourselves in transcribing the most accurate, impartial, and trustworthy depositions possible. This is why we encourage all of our reporters to instill understanding and accuracy in every deposition, including those where interpreters are involved.

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