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Working with an Interpreter 101

Using The Best Translation 101

Benefiting from Custom Linguistic Services 101

The Chinese Language 101


Resources for how to best work with an interpreter...


I am an attorney taking a deposition with an interpreter.  I also speak the language in which the deposition is interpreted.  The interpreter is doing a good job, but I heard one word that might have been misinterpreted.  What do I do?




As interpreters often do not know the background of the case, and as you have worked intimately with the case, it is definitely possible that your rendition of the interpretation is more appropriate than that of the interpreter.  This is especially true if the term is technical or is industry specific.  Generally, the "monitor interpreter" (check interpreter) would object to preserve the record. The interpreter would then stand by her interpretation or change the rendition for the record.

But what if there is no monitor interpreter?  And what if objections, if allowed, might cause opposing counsel to be suspicious that you are cherry - picking words.  Depending on how material the error is to the case, other methods might be less disruptive, more tactful, and equally preserve the record.  The methods below can be used whether or not you are confident that there was an error.

You could

 • continue to ask clarifying questions to draw out the pertinent information, or
 • ask the court reporter to re-read the last answer for clarification purposes, or
 • repeat the incorrect interpretation to ask the witness if that is what was actually meant, or
 • consult the interpreter transparently and off the record, if allowed, on a linguistic basis, of the accuracy of the interpretation.

A deposition taken or defended in which the witness speaks another language is different than depositions done only in English.  Recognizing some of these differences, and using a good interpreter will make the deposition feel as if it is completely in English.

When the interpreter interprets from Chinese into English, I often hear mistakes in tenses. I hear the Chinese language doesn't have tenses.  Is this true?

Can I tell the interpreter to interpret simultaneously during a deposition to save time?

What is the difference between simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation?

Do I have to break up my long questions into smaller segments so that the interpreter can interpret word for word?

I am taking a deposition of a deponent who I suspect is able to speak English.  I think he is requesting an interpreter so that he can hear the question twice.  Doesn't that work to my disadvantage?

When I am taking the deposition, should I look at the interpreter as I ask my questions, or should I look at the deponent when I ask my questions.  Does it make a difference?

When an interpreter is interpreting for my client on the witness stand in court, where should the interpreter be positioned to be most beneficial to my client?

For more information on "How to Work with an Interpreter", please contact us.

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