6 Nov 2013
I very much agree with the importance of the impartial role of the interpreter and I like how the expression "to put the non-English speaker on an equal footing as an English speaker" illustrates the point.
Public service interpreters have a very important role to play as part of the justice system and our contribution comes in the form of our knowledge of interpreting and translating techniques, the level of our at least two languages and the knowledge of specialized terminology. That's what we are tested and marked on when we train and sit the exams.
We need to trust that the legal professionals around interpreters have their own role and that their competence is not for the interpreter to assess. To deviate from the impartial model, in my opinion, would not only not improve the justice system but would be likely to make it less fair and less efficient.
Interpreters have a role to play and it is essential that it remains impartial because otherwise we are asking them to do something they are not qualified to do, that creates serious ethical and legal problems for everyone involved and for which they could not possibly be held accountable if anything went wrong.
Public Service Interpreter DPSI NRPSI
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