News from the Tightrope

12 Jun

We interpreters have to know when to intervene or even when Mr. Administrative Law Judge wants us to begin. Just today counsel warned “Mrs. López speaks perfect English and I believe it would be better if she does so and when she doesn’t understand, you can step in.”

I set my ego aside and waited patiently. Without fail there came a time when Mrs. López struggled to understand a convoluted string of clauses and clumsy adjectives. The Interpreter Guy to the rescue. I repeated the entire mass of words and she reduced the question to five simple words. Then, she answered the question.

Afterward I thanked Mr. Law Judge. He allowed as he doesn’t understand why lawyers sometimes insist that people speak in a second language. To him the LEP spoke freely and without hesitation in her native tongue.

What did I learn? I’d better take notes throughout as I may need to interpret at any second. Don’t force myself into a situation of power, but to wait politely for the cue. Legible scribble and nerves of steel prevent me from a fall on the interpreter tightrope.

Good words to you today.

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