Interpreted Jobs and You

Most reporters have an interpreted job or two in the course of their career. The witness just doesn’t speak English, yet has knowledge that is relevant to the case. There are certainly some challenges related to interpreted jobs.

One specific issue that recently came up for an intrepid Facebooker: “I told them I’m only reporting what the interpreter said, but the witness answered in English without the interpreter. What do I do?”

Simply put, in the freelance arena I felt comfortable using the in-answer parenthetical (without interpreter). 

Q. Is your name Joe?

A. Yes (without interpreter).

When I became an official, this changed to (in English).

Q. Is your name Joe?

A. Yes (in English).

Either parenthetical is pretty standard and usable. Remember in general you want parentheticals to be short or simple, and you want them to avoid possible inaccuracies. For example, let’s say someone bursts into an answer in what sounds like Russian. What then? Anybody can tell you what not to do.

Q. Is your name Joe?

A. (Long sentence that sounds Russian.)

Avoid naming languages because you don’t know all the languages. Try to keep things simple and accurate with (Non-English spoken). It’s simple, it’s accurate, and it gets the point across. As reporters, we aim to inject ourselves into the proceeding as little as possible, and our parentheticals, if we’re careful, can be an extension of that by stating very simple facts. 

As an aside, become familiar with your jurisdiction, because not all jurisdictions encourage parentheticals and some professionals do not use them or use them very rarely.

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