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The Unsung Roles of Court Interpreters

Court interpreters are vital in ensuring that your Limited English Proficiency (LEP) or non-English speaking clients understand the legal proceedings just as if they spoke English fluently themselves. However, interpreting during proceedings is just part of what court interpreters do each day. Here are 4 things you may not realize about the role of court interpreters.  

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1.     Court interpreters are always learning and improving to maintain the appropriate skillset needed to remain at a highly proficient and professional level in the court setting. Just as language is always evolving, so is the law. Interpreters often take courses and seminars to stay up-to-date in their field of expertise in order to ensure they are providing the best legal interpreting services in and out of the courtrooms. Not only do they need to stay up-to-speed with new legal terms and court procedures, they also need to remain current when it comes to language that may be used by clients within the courtroom, including changes to regional dialects and slang.

2.     There are various methods for court interpreting, depending on the scenario. Most court interpreting is done via simultaneous interpreting. The interpreter may wear a set of headphones with a microphone and interpret in real time for the client, who is also wearing a headset. However, not all courts are equipped with these headsets, and/or the setting may call for consecutive interpreting instead. In this latter scenario, the interpreter waits until the speaker has completed a sentence or thought before he or she begins speaking.

3.     Interpreters often work in teams to avoid fatigue. Interpreting for any length of time can come with mental and physical fatigue. Because of this, team interpreting is an industry standard for proceedings that last longer than 2 hours. This helps prevent being overworked, and alternating between two highly qualified interpreters will help the proceedings move more quickly, efficiently, and accurately—a definite benefit for you and your clients.

4.     They are often asked to do sight reading/translation of documents presented during the trial. The interpreter must then read the document in one language, and recite what it says aloud in another language so that all parties understand what it says.

How has your experience been with court interpreters? If you’ve come across anything in your experience that surprised you when working with an interpreter, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know by leaving a comment!

Is there such a thing as Universal Spanish in translation?

Although we know that producing translations that are localized as specifically as possible depending on the particular locale of your intended audience(s) can be fruitful, many people find it may not be realistic to have their project localized for all of the different varieties of Spanish spoken in different locales. In 2010, Spanish was ranked number two in terms of the number of native speakers worldwide, falling second only to Mandarin. There are many different countries with Spanish speakers, and oftentimes, a company may want to release its product to an audience that spans across several of these different locales.

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While each area has a different dialect, and therefore could require specific changes in the final localized product, it is not always within a company’s budget to go through this process for every locale. So, one might pose the question, “Is there a universal Spanish I can use? Something everyone will understand?” The answer to this is both “yes” and “no” and may also depend on the text itself.

Even though there may not be an official “Universal Spanish” dialect, there are certainly terms and phrases that are considered more "neutral" without the influence of local jargon or slang. The Real Academia Española, for example, strives to provide terms that are recognized by speakers of various dialects and does well to provide the standard definitions of words, as well as their various possible colloquial meanings, which may vary by country or region. For this reason, it is a good resource and starting point to localize a translated text into a Spanish that is somewhat universal.

However, it is still noteworthy to mention that the translators and editors of your content are influenced by their own respective countries and locales, which can inadvertently impact a word choice for even the most skilled linguist. They can work together to provide the most neutral Spanish possible, and a skilled team will provide a great rendition of the text with terms that are understood as widely as possible. There is always the potential that someone will read a translated word or phrase and not immediately recognize it as one they would use in their own dialect, but typically, context allows one to perceive the intended meaning.

In short, it is definitely possible to translate a text and localize it for a more universal Spanish overall. However, in doing so, there is no guarantee that the language team will not choose a term or phrase that is more commonly used in one area over another, despite its general neutrality. If you know that your target audience is specific to a few locales, it is best to let your translation project manager know so that he or she can ensure the finalized product is best suited for your needs. It may be the case that your text is better suited to a specific area, rather than trying to remain universal.

Translating and Localizing your Website on a Budget: Where to Begin

Expanding to a global market can be an exciting time for your business. Millions of Internet users speak a language other than English, and localizing your website to some of these specific target audiences allows your company the opportunity to reach a broader scope of people. Even in countries where English use is fairly widespread, consumers still prefer to seek out information in their native language, so having access to your content in that language will give your company an edge in a competitive market. Localization, which includes translation, also entails adapting your website’s content for other markets. Ideally, all aspects of your company’s website would be fully translated and localized for all target audiences you have decided to reach. However, it is not always within a company’s budget to localize the entire website at once. Knowing where to begin can be helpful in terms of adhering to your budget while still making your website more accommodating for your domestic or international market. We’ve prepared some ideas to help get you started.

Choosing your initial target audience(s)

If you plan to localize your content for multiple domestic or international audiences, it may be easiest to handle a select few first. Decide which languages and markets will be most beneficial for your company to reach. Not only will you have learned from the process of localizing the content for a few select audiences first, it will also allow you to spread out the costs of localization over time, which may be more desirable for your company budget.

Deciding which pages to localize

Localizing your website’s content can also come in stages. It is important to decide which pages are critical for your business, and which have messages that are important for your domestic or international audience. If you have a local events page or careers page, for example, these would not be of high importance to translate or localize, since they would only be necessary for your original English-speaking audience.

On the other hand, pages that are specific to your company’s brand, such as your mission statement or an About Us page, would be of higher priority so that your new customers feel connected with you from the beginning. Some other pages that may be important for your company to consider up front would be forms you need the customer to fill out like requests for information or pages with news about company updates.

Ultimately, what you decide to prioritize will depend on your company’s mission and vision for your domestic or international reach. We are always happy to assist you in deciding the best path to take when it comes to expanding to new audiences. Please feel free to contact us today for more information!

If you found this article useful, you may also enjoy:

Your Website is Translated… Now What?

Should You Localize Your Smart Phone Applications?

What If I Just Use the Google Translate Button on My Website?

Cheap Translation Services: Do You Really Get What You Pay For?

If you’ve ever been in need of translation services, or are currently looking into them for your company, chances are good that you’ve likely shopped around for what you consider to be the best deal while looking into the different options. You’ve spent a lot of money and time ensuring that your current brochure, form, website, etc. is perfectly crafted for your company and your customers. If you are looking to have the same translated for another audience, it only makes sense that you would like the best for them as well. If this is still fairly new for you, it can be a bit overwhelming and we understand wanting to find the best price for your company. However, that best price may not always come with the best quality translation, so if a pricing option seems too good to be true, it may be important to remember that you often really do get what you pay for.

If you do decide to use cheap, often unaccredited translation services, or even accept the help of a bilingual friend who may not be truly qualified to translate your text, you will end up with an initially cheaper service. However, you might compare it to the quality/cost comparison of just about anything currently on the market. Just as a $5.00 shovel may work well for a single yard project, chances are good it won’t last the entire season, and you will end up needing to replace the shovel again anyway. If you continue to purchase the $5.00 shovel, you will likely spend more money and time replacing it than you would if you had just purchased the $30.00 shovel to begin with.

Translation is similar. If you print a subpar translation on your brochures, your customers will notice. There will be errors, and although they won’t always be critical errors, if your customers can tell that it’s a translation at all, it impacts your reputation with them. The mark of a good translation is one you do not even realize has been translated. It should read smoothly and naturally so that the reader believes it was written with him in mind in the first place.

Professional linguists do not and should not have the cheapest rates around, so if you are quoted an extremely low price compared to others, it’s likely that the linguists used are not the most qualified, or perhaps, the agency uses shortcuts to keep the price so low (using machine translation to begin with, and only using a human proofreader to review that text, for example). A reputable translation agency will have strict measures in place to ensure the quality of your product. A translation should always be handled by at least two separate qualified linguists to both translate and proofread/edit the text, and then undergo the agency’s own quality assurance measures to avoid any issues from the onset.

If you are truly interested in saving money, have the translation handled correctly the first time to avoid costly mistakes down the road. ATS is proud to say that we do not take shortcuts with your projects and always use professional translators and proofreaders who are qualified to handle the content of your project. If you would like more information on a current project you have, or would like to request a free consultation, we would love to hear from you!

What If I Just Use the Google Translate Button on My Website?

It’s not uncommon to hear someone ask about using Google Translate (or another free machine translation tool) for their translation needs. Those in the language industry probably hear this question fairly often, especially since there is a Google Translate button on many websites, both personal and professional, prompting users to translate a website into the language of their choice with just the click of a button. Although those in the language industry will have immediate reservations about using free, automated machine translation professionally, it is not difficult to understand why many would feel this is a good option. After all, Google provides some amazing services, many of which are free. If you have grown to trust Google for these other services, it might stand to reason that you feel comfortable trusting Google for a free translation, as well. Trust us, we completely understand! However, your organization’s brand and your website’s accuracy may be at stake if you are relying on this method to translate content for your visitors.

The ability to correctly maintain both the meaning and the intended impression of your website’s subject is something, at least at this point in time, that can only be accomplished with professional human translators. These translators are able to dissect the content of the page, understand the intention of its message, and then convey that same message and intention in another language.

Automated machine translation such as Google Translate is unable to identify all of the nuances of a language, and often makes errors involving both the grammar and vocabulary of the target language. If you have ever used the Google Translate button to translate a non-English website into English, it was likely very obvious that the translation was automated and not done professionally by a native speaker. This type of translation does not capture the true original message, even if we can make out what the proper words should have been, some of the time.

If your organization values its branding and professionalism, it is important to have your website translated professionally. A professional translation agency will ensure that a native speaker of the target language who specializes in the subject matter translates your content. The translation will also be reviewed by a proofreader or editor to ensure the quality of the final product. This helps to maintain the professionalism your company conveys through its branding, and it can also keep your company out of legal trouble in certain cases, should your information be translated incorrectly. If you are a food vendor, for example, and your website mistranslates allergy warnings, this could have major legal ramifications for you if one of your customers falls ill.

Even if there are no legal implications, native speakers of a target language will know when a website has been translated through an automated system and may look to your competition for a company that will better communicate with them. After all, good communication is a form of good service.

The process of taking your message, breaking down its intended meaning in all places, understanding the nuances of your ideas and messages, and putting it all back together in another language is complex. Although we completely understand the appeal, we urge you not to rely on a seemingly free service to do this. Just as other aspects of your business are handled by their respective professionals, we recommend doing the same for your translations to help prevent potential mistranslations and bumps down the road.

Translating Idioms: Why a Professional Translation is Essential

Idioms are an important part of our language, maybe even more than we actually realize. They are so ingrained in our normal language usage that we may even use them without realizing it. It is important to understand what an idiom is. According to Webster’s Dictionary, an idiom is “an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements” or “a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people”. Basically, idioms are the expressions and sayings that people use when they speak or write that have their own unique meanings and cannot always be taken literally. There’s no use beating around the bush - we can’t turn a blind eye to them. So what do we do with them when they appear in a text that needs to be translated? A professional translator will recognize an idiom and find the equivalent to that expression in the target language. More often than not, the expression used in the source language will not be the same as the expression’s corresponding version in the target language. However, the target language will have its own version of the expression that the translator will use instead. It is extremely important to use the target language version of the idiom. If translated word for word, an idiom will lose its intended meaning and may actually cause a complete lack of understanding for the reader in the target language.

Here are some common English idioms with their Spanish equivalents. We have included the literal translation of the Spanish versions just to show how much meaning may actually be lost if one tries to convert the Spanish idiom back into English.

English Source: “To turn a blind eye” Spanish Target: Taparse los ojosLiteral Back Translation: "To cover one’s eyes"

English Source: “To beat around the bush” Spanish Target:Andarse por rodeosLiteral Back Translation: "To go on detours"

English Source: “It’s 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other.” Spanish Target:Olivo y aceituno, todo es uno.Literal Back Translation: "An olive and an olive tree, it’s all one."

English Source: “On all fours” Spanish Target:A gatasLiteral Back Translation: "Like cats"

While these are a few fun examples, you can see how literal translations can be problematic. The same is true for all of the text you need to have translated, not just for idioms. Anyone who reads the target text should believe it was written originally in his/her language. Literal translations of texts are easy to spot and they can turn customers off to your brand or products, as they are a sign that little care was put into trying to connect with the reader.

Have you come across any literal translations that caused a translation blunder? Feel free to share them below!

 

Why do I need to provide language access to patients, clients and customers?

Being able to communicate effectively in the language of your patients, clients, or customers is extremely important for your relationship and essential to your brand's success. If you receive federal funding, providing adequate language access options also protects you from violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. This includes providing language access to individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEPs). Your company's customers will also feel more attracted to your brand if advertising and customer service options are provided in the language in which they are most comfortable.

A hospital, for example, should always have on-site or on-call interpreters available for LEP individuals. This will help eliminate medical emergencies or poor care caused by the individual's inability to communicate effectively with health care providers. It is extremely important that both doctor and patient understand each other completely to avoid these potentially grave errors. The same holds true in legal settings. Miscommunication between parties can be the difference between improper sentencing and an innocent person being set free. Communication in their native language also ensures that each party understands all legal implications associated with an action, protecting everyone involved.

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Not only does closing the language barrier protect you from violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it also goes a long way in improving your brand image. If you are able to provide advertisements in the native language of your intended audience, these customers will be more likely to feel appreciated and attracted to your company. If you provide customer service options in other languages (either via a live bilingual operator or telephonic interpretation option), these customers will continue to feel appreciated and are more likely to interact with you if needed. This communication can help ensure their needs are met so they remain loyal customers for you.

If you find that you would like to provide language access for any target demographic, we will be glad to assist with the steps along the way. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or for a free quote.

Your Website is Translated... Now What?

If you’ve recently translated your website, then you’ve taken a huge first step in terms of growing your marketing demographic! However, you may notice that your customer base does not necessarily grow right off the bat just based on the translated website alone. Your goal to expand your customer base into other cultures is a great one, and here are some steps to help drive traffic to your newly translated website and continue along the path of reaching this new demographic.

  • Create marketing plans aimed at bringing in your new target demographic. Advertise your content in sources relevant to this group, localizing your advertisements to reach these new customers. If your customers do not realize that there is an entire web page designed with them in mind, you won’t see the full benefit of its creation!
  • Use social media to your advantage! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are just a few popular social media channels that can help you reach more people faster. Know which social media platforms you’d like your company to start with, and focus on those. Learn what drives customer engagement across these channels and begin to implement these. Create a Facebook business page specific to your company’s niche within this target market. Point people to the content on your site whenever it’s relevant to send people there so that they engage with you where you’d like them to end up. Ensure your social media pages are easily identifiable as your own brand, but specific to your new market. If your company’s brand is typically associated with being carefree, make sure your new page adapts that perception, but tailor it to your audience. You might, for example, have someone run a “Business Name_Mexico” Instagram page to ensure the content is relevant. Such relevant and engaging content will drive your customers from social media to your website.
  • Engage with target customers on review sites when possible. This lets them know their voice is heard and that your company is serious about engaging with them in their own language on topics that are important to them.

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Once you’ve driven traffic to your website, it is important to keep these customers engaged to avoid losing them. Make your website visually appealing and tailor it to your target market. Be sure the first things your customers see when they visit the site are relevant to their needs. If it is not visually appealing or puts the customer off in any way, you run the risk of them leaving the website and not returning. You can also get feedback by surveying your customers while they’re using the site. Many people will gladly share their opinion and may help you identify any potential issues on the site as it relates to that culture (or in general!) and how you could possibly fix that going forward. This newly translated website is a great step in ensuring you are reaching your new customer base, and with the right focus on demographic going forward, you should see your website’s traffic increase along the way.