Saturday, April 10, 2010

The interpreter: Lost in translation

Neetu Mahandru won't forget her first taste of life as a court interpreter in a hurry. "It was a gang-related stabbing trial at Birmingham crown court a couple of years ago," she tells me. "There were about 20 or 30 barristers in the room, maybe 70 or 80 other people in the courtroom and public gallery, and a lot of people in the dock, so I was pretty nervous." She seems surprised that I don't remember the occasion.

She had been called in to translate the testimonies of the defendants, all Punjabi speakers. "There was a lot of conference between the barristers. Barristers think they know everything, so you have to stand your ground …"

Up to then, Mahandru had been teaching English as a second language, taking tentative steps towards translation work, so the phrase "thrown in at the deep end" hardly covers her experience.

"I think I did pretty well. But I thought, 'I will not take any more court bookings'. But then I thought, 'This is part of my job, I can't just sit back and say I don't want to do this'."

Full report here Guardian

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