5 Apr

An Ohio State Certified Court interpreter performs in three modes: simultaneous, consecutive and sight translation. According to Holly Mikkelson, “In fact, sight translation is just as difficult at simultaneous interpretation, and involves some of the same mental processes.”1 Hopefully she (the interpreter) devotes time to read court documents to become familiar with boilerplate language. Sight translation delivery sounds as if the interpreter were reading the text written in the target language. Reading clunky legal documents aloud in the privacy of your home office loosens the tongue.

Testing requirements in Ohio include a passing grade on an oral exam. According to the Rules of Superintendence, Rule 80 states that sight translation “means interpretation in which a foreign language interpreter or sign language interpreter renders in a target language a written document composed in a source language.”2 How to prepare for such a test?

Luckily I purchased Holly’s “The Interpreter’s Edge” back in the 90’s with cassettes. My confidence increased slowly with twenty minutes of practice every other day. Bureaucratic language came to the tongue without delay (Y para que así conste) and I grew calmer and calmer in order to provide a smooth delivery, just shy of stentorian. When the attached document appeared in family court a few weeks ago, I knew to ask for a minute to seek troublesome terms: “Your Honor, in order to provide an accurate sight translation, may the interpreter have a moment to review the document?” I admit that se celebró la vista correspondiente initially gave me pause. I took a deep breath and the terminology hard drive kicked in.

Review the attached document, research unfamiliar terms and begin the discipline to assure the court that you are the language professional. Can you Spanish speakers locate the spelling error? Good luck to all.

1. Mikkelson, Holly. The Interpreter’s Edge: Practical Exercises in Court Interpreting. 3rd ed. Spreckels, CA: ACEBO, 1995.
2. The Supreme Court of Ohio Interpreter Certification Program
sight translation


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