Examining the Use of Dialects in Legal Interpreting

When you work with a legal interpreter, it is essential to not only consider the standard form of the language being spoken but the dialect as well. Dialectal differences can be more substantial than many people realize, and failing to provide interpreting in the appropriate dialect can dramatically impact the validity of testimony. When you hire an interpreter in the Bay Area, be sure that you find one who speaks the specific dialect of the witnesses in question to prevent any complications. Here is what you need to know.

Dialects and Understanding

Examining the Use of Dialects in Legal Interpreting

Native English speakers can easily underestimate the differences of dialects in other languages. Idioms used in dialects are often based in regional or cultural differences, so people who speak other dialects of the same language may not understand them. In different dialects, the same word can have two different meanings or may be interpreted differently, which can interfere with a witness’ understanding. In some cases, people may only speak a dialectal form of a language without speaking or reading the standard form of the language. In these instances, relying on the standard form of the language as a baseline for interpreting is as useless as not providing interpreting at all.

Dialects and Interpreting

Before you hire an interpreter, find out not just the language but also the dialect of the witnesses in your case. Next, find an interpreter who is qualified to speak that specific dialect and who is also court certified, if such certification is available for his language. Do not assume that speaking the standard language means that the interpreter can speak the specific dialect of the witness. Provide your interpreter with as much information about your case as possible in advance, so that he or she can prepare appropriately, making sure that he or she knows how to convey the necessary legal terminology in that dialect. Because faulty interpreting can have life-altering consequences in the legal setting, work with an experienced legal interpreter who understands the demands of the courtroom or deposition processes.