The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022 - 27

Much like each character
in a movie, every person we
interpret for has a different
voice. As interpreters, we
have to honor their voice
and be true to their style and
how they wish to express
themselves. To achieve this,
it helps to imagine that
each person you're going to
interpret for is a character
you'll play. Every assignment
means a new role or roles.
You may be playing the part
of a sales executive one
day and a defense attorney,
judge, or hostile witness the
next. Each person will have
their own style, their own
" dialogue, " and you'll
have to prepare for each
one differently.
Rehearsing Your Lines
Imagine you're going to be
interpreting in a courtroom.
The non-English-speaking
defendant is relying on you
to hear and understand the
judge, the prosecutor, the
jurors, the expert witnesses,
etc. You'll essentially be
playing those parts. Have you
studied your lines?
Each of the parties
involved has prepared
remarks. The judge has
her litany. The attorneys
have their arguments. The
witnesses are going to talk
about what they saw. They
have rehearsed their lines.
Have you also prepared for
these roles?
For example, when the
fingerprint expert takes the
stand, you know she's going
to talk about " loops and
whorls. " Did you research
the terminology specific to
the case so it's on the tip
of your tongue? Imagine
you're going to be testifying
as the expert. How would
you respond when asked,
" What does your job entail?
Describe your methodology
and the instruments you
use. " If you're able to speak
intelligently using the same
terminology as the experts
testifying, then you're
prepared to interpret. If,
on the other hand, your
response is more akin to " I
use this thing to look at other
things using a special tool
and make my findings, " then
you might need to prepare
just a little bit more.
Wardrobe Check
A few years ago, I sent an
interpreter out to cover a
deposition. She arrived early
and was sitting in the waiting
area. There was another
woman there who claimed
to be an interpreter hired by
one of the parties.
The attorney came out,
glanced at my colleague,
who was dressed in
professional attire, and
then glanced at the other
interpreter, who was dressed
in shorts and a t-shirt, and
said, " We obviously don't
need two interpreters. "
And then motioning to my
colleague, said, " Please
come in, " and dismissed the
other interpreter.
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American Translators Association 27
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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2022

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