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Courtroom interpreting


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
"When I saw the defendant shivering, I began to think about what he felt."

I found this article quite interesting.

A long fight for better court interpreting

When Hiromi Nagao first began interpreting in court cases involving non-Japanese-speaking foreign defendants, she was terrified before and during every trial. Without any special training or qualifications, it was a constant process of learning from her mistakes-not a comfortable situation, given that the trials could have a huge impact on the lives of the defendants. Yet strangely, almost no one in the legal profession saw this as a problem. There were only a few non-Japanese-speaking foreigners coming before the courts at the time, and even if they couldn't understand what was being said, that rarely affected the outcome of the trial. [...]

Due to her unfamiliarity with legal terms and her inability to get assistance from the courts, Nagao found it impossible to do what she considered a "sufficient" job interpreting. On her own initiative, she began visiting the offices of prosecutors and lawyers to ask for information before trials. In some cases they were cooperative, in others, they were not. Some prosecutors even said pre-trial information was "none of her business." [...]

"You need to know the terminology beforehand, you need a code of ethics, confidentiality, you need to know not to modify, add or revise anything. You have to be very careful, but in order to be careful, you have to have guidelines, but there are no guidelines in Japan." As an example of the type of specialized language used in court, she offers the term "midari ni". In vernacular language, it means "recklessly", "carelessly", or "indiscriminately". But in court it means "without legal permission" - something few non-experts would know. [...]

asahi.com : ENGLISH

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