David Lauman

How to get a good deal on translation of deposition transcripts

In Advice on October 11, 2017 at 12:11 PM

By David L. Lauman, MATI, FCCI, CT

Here is the story of a law firm that obtained high-quality, professional translation of a deposition transcript while getting a great value for their money. Read on, and see how you can reap similar benefits.

A Spanish-speaking client of the firm had recently testified at a deposition concerning a personal injury case, and his attorney wanted him to review the transcript for accuracy before signing it.  The attorney also requested that I translate the deposition transcript into Spanish.  Upon reviewing the transcript, I determined that a written translation would have taken several hours to complete, which would result in a four-figure fee.  When I shared this information with the firm, it did not move things forward.

So I decided to offer sight translation instead, which is spoken translation of a written text.  I tried doing sight translation into Spanish on part of the transcript and found that I was comfortable with this method, and that it would allow me to convey the content into the deponent’s native language completely, accurately, and quickly.  Additionally, I ascertained that said method would take far less time than written translation, and at a substantially lower cost.

When I shared these findings with the firm, they promptly set up an appointment for me to go to their offices and sight translate the transcript to their client.  To allay their concerns about accuracy, I suggested that we prepare a statement for me to sign and have notarized, in which I certified that I had done a thorough, faithful and correct sight translation of the transcript.

The actual sight translation took even less time than I had originally estimated, and it definitely cost the firm much less than a written translation.  They were happy with this outcome, and since then I have received repeat business from them.

Please note, though, that only certain types of documents lend themselves to efficient sight translation.  In the instance I’ve shared, the language of the deposition transcript was not highly technical and the topic was relatively straightforward. However, more complex documents (i.e. re: international tax law) should only be translated in written form, and it is worth the investment to ensure that the written translation is publication-grade.

When this type of situation arises, I would suggest that you work with a court-certified interpreter (i.e. who specializes in spoken translation for legal matters).  I would also recommend that you get an interpreter who has also undergone extensive coursework in sight translation as part of his formal interpreter/translator training.  Please note that there are relatively few such interpreters, and that translators who strictly work with written documents are not necessarily trained to do sight translation.  Finally, if distance is an issue, sight translation can also be done by videoconference.

I look forward to assisting you with situations like these and others requiring accurate Spanish translation. Please contact me at 303-667-6082 or david “at” 2020translations.com.  I invite you to learn more about my solutions at www.2020translations.com! Thank you!

© David L. Lauman, 2017.  All rights reserved.

Required language proficiency for translators and interpreters

In In your shoes on August 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM

By David L. Lauman

20/20 Translations, Inc.

A high degree of proficiency in one’s foreign language(s) and native tongue is just one fundamental requirement to become a professional translator and/or interpreter.  How can one define this degree of proficiency, however?

First, let’s start by ruling out two categories of individuals whose proficiency can be questionable: (1) so-called bilinguals and (2) those who have studied a foreign language (3) individuals from either of the prior two categories who have little or no translation/interpretation (hereinafter referred to as T&I) training nor experience.

The term bilingual can be deceptive.  A person who speaks two languages can claim to be bilingual, but that may simply mean that he learned the foreign language at home and therefore only knows enough to communicate in familiar, non-technical situations.  Such a person may have a limited speaking vocabulary, and not have developed the ability to read, write, nor speak about complex, abstract topics.

While language courses provide important basics, on their own they rarely allow a person to reach the level of proficiency required for professional T&I.  Most often, studying abroad and taking courses with regular degree-seeking students is instrumental for developing foreign language/cultural expertise.

The Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) has useful guides for determining language proficiency and T&I proficiency.  Level 4 proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding a foreign language is generally a good starting point for an individual to develop effectively as a translator and/or interpreter.

As to the ILR’s skill level descriptions for interpretation and translation performance, Level 4 proficiency can also be considered a good baseline for selecting a practitioner.  However, it is wise to seek the guidance of a professional to better understand these proficiency standards.

Bio: David L. Lauman holds an M.A. in Translation and Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and is a federal and state court certified interpreter.  He specializes in Spanish translation and interpretation for the legal, financial and medical industries and can be reached at david(at)2020translations.com or 303-667-6082.


How can interpreters help court reporters?

In Court interpreters and court reporters on May 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM

By David L. Lauman

20/20 Translations, Inc.

Recently, I began asking court reporters what, as the interpreter, I can do to make their jobs easier at out-of-court proceedings.  So far, most have made only two requests: that the interpreter render all responses from the LEP (Limited English Proficient) into English, and that the interpreter speak in a loud, clear voice.

At times, an LEP may answer the attorney’s question in English before the interpreter can convey it into the LEP’s language.  This can be a problem, because in addition to the possibility that the witness might have thought he understood the attorney’s question when he did not, we know that an answer provided in heavily-accented, ungrammatical English does not make the court reporter’s job any easier.

To help the court reporter and attorneys ensure that they receive answers from the deponent in clear English, before each proceeding, I always request that the deposing attorney or arbitrator instruct the witness to wait for me to convey each question into Spanish, that he respond in Spanish, and that he allow me to render all of his answers into English.  Not only has every attorney to whom I have made this request eagerly oblige, but this also makes court reporters happier!

It is inconvenient for court reporters to have to strain to hear a person who speaks too softly, given their responsibility to make an accurate record of all proceedings.  So interpreters must also ensure that they speak up.

How else can interpreters help court reporters?  Your thoughts are welcome.

Bio: David L. Lauman holds an M.A. in Translation and Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and is a federal and state court certified interpreter.  He specializes in Spanish translation and interpretation for the legal, financial and medical industries and can be reached at david(at)2020translations.com or 303-667-6082.

©David L. Lauman, 2013