David Lauman

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

  1. As a certified court reporter of thirty-five years, I would like all interpreters to be instructed to answer in the first person rather than “He says,,blah, blah, blah”, or “She says, blah, blah, blah.” It would make the transcript so much easier for everyone.

    Valerie – Barrie, Ontario

    • Dear Valerie,

      Thank you very much for speaking out! What an honor to hear from a colleague from Canada!

      Valerie, I couldn’t agree with you more. Every code of ethics for court interpreters that I have seen requires that interpreters convey everything said in the first person. Among trained and experienced interpreters, first person interpreting is the norm, and third person interpreting is considered to be a huge no-no.

      Greetings from Denver!



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