5 Essentials for Interpreting in Court Situations

Interpreting in court and legal settings is a highly specialised field. Interpreters must not only be proficient in their language pairs but also understand court procedures and legal jargon. Michael Corden, one of our NAATI accredited Yumplatok < > English translators and interpreters, spends a high proportion of his work in translating and interpreting in Queensland Court situations. In this interview, Michael covers just some of the essential skills one needs to translate in a legal environment.

1.- An unexpected result of an interpreting job in courts.

Michael: In once case, when I was assisting the accused, even though he was sent to prison, his mother came to me showing gratitude that at least his story was clearly expressed before the judge.

2.- A must-do in interpreting and translation.

Michael: You need to know who the target client is and for whom you are translating. And also, you need to know the big-picture context of the whole document as well as the immediately preceding and following content.

3.- The most useful information you have translated.

Michael: Any resource where I know the target audience will actually benefit from the information being in their language is useful. This is usually the case where the source file to be translated is written in clear English. Too often I see resources written in a bureaucratic language that is difficult to understand by anyone.

4.- An obvious-not-so-obvious advice from a translator to another.

Michael: Try to put yourself into the shoes of the recipient of your translation or interpreting. You are then more likely to convey a correct and more meaningful message.

5.- What do you say about negative comments from clients?

Michael: You must accept such feedback. You can never question a judge if they believe you have strayed from your specific task. I say: “Yes, Your Honour. Thank you”. You cannot question what they believe has happened, even if you believe they are wrong in their assessment.

4 Facts about Yumplatok

  • 1 in 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people speak an Indigenous language at home. In Australia’s North East, 5,900 usual residents of Queensland reported speaking Yumplatok out of a total of 6,200 nationally, according to the 2016 Census.
  • Yumplatok (also known as Torres Strait Creole or Ailan Tok) is spoken by most Torres Strait Islanders.
  • It is a mixture of Australian English and other Torres Strait Creole traditional languages such as Meriam Mir or Kala Laga Ya.
  • It is one of Australia’s most widely spoken Indigenous languages.