Even though many people interchange the job of a California certified interpreter and a translator, they are actually not synonymous. Translation is when text is translated to another language, either by being written or recorded. Interpretation, on the other hand, involves taking a concept from one language and deliver the message in another language in a linguistically and culturally equivalent way. Furthermore, the task of a legal California certified interpreter is a bit different than other types of interpreters.
Legal interpreting can be the interpretation of witnesses testimony or the interpreting of entire proceedings, either for just one person or for everyone in attendance. This type of service occurs in courts of justice, administrative tribunals, a police station for an interrogation, a conference room for a deposition or the locale for taking a sworn statement. There are many other applications and venues for which it is used as well.
There are also many different modes of interpretation, some of which include relay interpretation, liason interpreting, simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. With simultaneous interpreting, the California certified interpreter listens to a message, translates it and relays from one language to another with no intentional pauses. Consecutive interpreting provides pauses from the speaker to allow the interpreter to relay messages to the listener. With liason interpreting, relaying what is spoken to one, between two, or among many people takes place, such as in a short speech. Finally with relay interpreting, the target language is actually several different languages.
The right to have a competent interpreter for those who do not understand the language of the court is fundamental. Although it is often guaranteed in constitutions, declarations of rights and precedents set by courts, in the United States it actually is not a constitutionally required procedure that a California certified interpreter be present during police interrogation. In consecutive interpretation, California certified interpreters will usually work alone, and if they are engaging in simultaneous interpretation they will work as a team along with other professionals.
These professionals must practice absolute mastery of the target languages, a thorough knowledge of legal and court procedures and intelligence regarding the law. In many jurisdictions, these professionals are key components of court proceedings, and this is especially true in areas where a large portion of the population speaks a secondary language. The interpretation they provide is considered an essential part of the evidence as well. In fact, incompetent interpretation, or even just failure to swear in the interpreter, can lead to a mistrial. In addition, these professionals must have formal authorization from the state to work in the courts as California certified interpreters.
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