Tips for Working with Interpreters

People should speak slower, but-you-do-not-have-to-speak-so-slow that it's annoying.  Just speak at a regular pace.  There are some lawyers who speak rapidly, and you want to make sure that if you think they're speaking too rapidly to communicate with the interpreter.  Are you okay with the pace of the questioning, for example.  The other thing that's important is to make sure that the lawyers understand that they should not talk over each other. 

So that, for example, if somebody want to object to a question, they should stand and object, and you should get control immediately and let the other side know that they should stop, listen to the objection, because the witness or the litigant has the right to hear that translated or interpreted as well.  So you want to make sure that the people, even when they're reading a document, that they not read fast.  Sometimes people read faster than what they normally speak, and so you might want to watch that and make sure that the interpreter is getting all of the interpretation.

As a judge you have to do the same thing.  It's important for you not to turn and talk away because you're looking at a book back here, because if you're doing that, the interpreter may not hear you.  So you should always try to make facial contact with the interpreter when you're saying something.  Don't mumble.  If you're mumbling, the interpreter is going to have a difficult time.  If you're reading into a book as opposed to reading out loud – let's say you're reading the jury instructions to the jury – if you're reading into the page as opposed to the jury, it's going to be more difficult for the interpreter.  Try to avoid using slang and other words that the interpreter may have a difficult time interpreting for the non-English speaking participant.

So always keep that in mind.  It's very difficult to interpret, particularly simultaneous interpreting, so try to be cognizant of what the witnesses and lawyers and you yourself are saying, and how you're saying it, and the pace with which you're saying it, giving every opportunity for the interpreter to accurately interpret the court proceedings. 

 

NM Center for Language Access
New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts 

237 Don Gaspar, Room 25
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
aocjmk@nmcourts.gov
505 827 4822
nmcenterforlanguageaccess.org

 
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