Will Artificial Intelligence Make Interpreters Obsolete?

I read the news about Waverly Labs’ new in-ear realtime translation device (video below) with great interest. With rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), interpreters are sometimes asked if technology will soon replace us. The short answer is that technology definitely assists good interpreters and translators, and may eliminate the need for expenditure of human brain effort on certain large-volume, low-priority projects. But, while I do embrace new technology to assist me in my translation and interpreting work, I’m not the least bit concerned that it will send me to the unemployment line.
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Preciso’s Holly Behl Joins TAJIT Board of Directors

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It is my privilege and honor to announce that I am now serving translators and interpreters at the state level, after being nominated to the Texas Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.  As a longtime TAJIT member, I have long believed that TAJIT is the organization best positioned to unite court interpreters and legal translators from across Texas and promote both our profession and meaningful access to justice for Limited English Proficient court users. The Board will meet soon to review TAJIT’s programs and strategy, under the leadership of Interim Chair Marco Hanson.

If you hire court interpreters or legal translators, I encourage you to look first to TAJIT members.

If you are a court interpreter or legal translator and you haven’t yet joined TAJIT (or if your membership has lapsed), I take this opportunity to humbly encourage you to join, in support of the advancement of our profession in Texas.

More information at TAJIT’s website.

 

Content Copyright © 2015, Preciso Language Services

PERMISSION TO REPRINT: You may use any items from this article in your print, blog, magazine or electronic newsletter. But in order to do so, you must include the following paragraph, including a link to www.PrecisoLanguage.com.

“Information courtesy of Preciso Language Services and www.PrecisoLanguage.com, a translation and interpreting firm owned by Certified Translator and Master Licensed Court Interpreter Holly Behl.”

 

 

 

DIY Interpreting – Money saver or false economy?

This month’s Texas Bar Journal features DIY Depositions, an article exploring the pros and cons of recording depositions without a certified court reporter. The relevant statutes allow this practice under certain exceptions, but the author’s conclusion is that the inconveniences, risks, and resources required are usually not worth the meager savings of eliminating the services of a professional, certified court reporter.

The question of avoiding interpreter fees is also relevant for many law practices. Some bilingual attorneys interpret for their clients’ testimony when possible, and even more use bilingual assistants to interpret during pre-appearance preparations.  One attorney recently posted on Facebook in praise of a bilingual Justice of the Peace judge who allowed pro se litigants to proceed in Spanish, saving the parties hundreds of dollars in interpreter fees.

It’s true that there are ways to save on interpreter fees–but do they provide a true savings or a false economy?

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What is a “quality” translation?

It’s safe to say that all translation companies promise quality translations. Most  clients understand that at the most basic level, a translation must be accurate—it has to say the same thing as the original.

But is an accurate translation necessarily a high quality one? And higher quality often comes at a price–when is it worth it to pay more?

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Fiat Justicia – Master LCI Awareness

You may have seen some interpreters around the courthouse wearing a white button that bears their credential—Master Licensed Court Interpreter (MLCI). The slogan across the top reads Fiat justicia — “Let justice be done.” Holly Behl Texas Licensed Court Interpreter Dallas

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2014 – A Great Year at Preciso

As we open a new year here at Preciso, I would like to take a moment to express my gratitude for 2014–a truly amazing year. Here are some highlights:

And, last but not least, the American Translators Association notified me that I passed its notoriously rigorous certification exam to earn the title of Certified Translator for Spanish>English. I can’t wait to update my business cards to display my Certified Translator seal.

In short, it has been an incredible year. I am grateful for every opportunity and to my wonderful clients and colleagues for your continued support. Here’s to an even better 2015!

-Holly

Evolution of a Dictionary Project: Interview with Legal Dictionary Author Javier F. Becerra

Each year, Mexico City’s Escuela Libre de Derecho announces a law-school elective course inconspicuously titled “Legal English Workshop.” Now approaching its twenty-fifth year, the course is still taught by attorney, professor, and author Javier F. Becerra. The professor has written two legal dictionaries, the Dictionary of United States Legal Terminology (with Spanish explanations) and the Dictionary of Mexican Legal Terminology (with English explanations), each more than 1,000 pages, that are prized assets in many legal translators’ collections.

Dallas Texas court interpreter interviews legal dictionary author Javier Becerra

Becerra’s dictionaries on my shelf, in brown and yellow.

The Walking Dictionary

To understand Becerra’s dictionaries, however, we must leave the professor at his lectern for a moment and find him as a young Mexican lawyer, Continue reading

When Court Certified Isn’t Enough

I’m always glad when a potential client calls me for the first time to check availability and rates. And I really like it when they also ask, “By the way, you are court certified, right?” This tells me the client is interested in doing things right—my kind of client. But, before I answer that question, I always have an internal debate over how detailed my answer should be. Normally, I conclude that they just want to know if I’m qualified to interpret for the assignment they are asking me about. So, I just say, “Yes.”

But, at least here in Texas, this seemingly straightforward question is actually quite complicated. I hope this post will shed some light on qualifications for court interpreters in Texas. Continue reading

NAJIT Conference Wrap-up

I am freshly returned from a weekend at the National Association of Judicial Interpreters and Translators annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Dallas Court Interpreter NAJIT

Before getting into some of the details of what I learned, I’d like to mention that this organization has a long history of working to advance the profession and advocating for both interpreting/translation professionals and those with limited English proficiency who use our services in the judicial system.  The conference had around 200 attendees, and it was an honor to be surrounded by so many pioneers of our profession.  NAJIT brings together human resources from the most progressive jurisdictions in the country, creates resources for its members, and advocates for our noble profession at the national level.  I highly recommend NAJIT membership to anyone involved in translation/interpretation in the legal field.

Sabine Michael discusses NAJIT's materials for educating the bench and bar on interpreting issues.

Sabine Michael discusses NAJIT’s materials for educating the bench and bar on interpreting issues.

As for the details, one of my main motivations in attending this conference was the 8-hour seminar taught by Tony Rosado on Mexico’s recently enacted reforms to its judicial processes.  Historically, the oral proceedings we interpret in the U.S. have generally not had direct counterparts in Spanish-speaking countries, where cases were resolved entirely in writing, through briefs and judicial opinions.

This dissimilarity meant that the Spanish terminology we study as court interpreters was always an exercise in description as we searched for terms that expressed each aspect of the U.S. judicial process in a way that would be understood by a Spanish speaker despite the lack of an equivalent proceeding in his or her home country.  For example, an arraignment is a court hearing in which the defendant, his attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge convene for a formal reading of the charges against the defendant.  There was no equivalent hearing, thus there was no single, authoritatively correct, Spanish term.  Instead, as a profession we continuously develop a lexicon of accepted terms, with no small amount of scholarship and debate along the way.

Agustin de Mora teaches memory-improvement techniques at NAJIT 2014.

Agustin de Mora teaches memory-improvement techniques at NAJIT 2014.

Now, after years of ramping up for the change, Mexico is converting its judicial system to one of oral proceedings like that of the United States. The most immediate effect for U.S.-based judicial interpreters is that there is now a body of Spanish-language legislation that officially names the equivalent concepts for many of our judicial proceedings.  This is also a revolution for the practice of law in Mexico, and there are already thousands of pages written in Mexico’s scholarly journals on the advantages and disadvantages of oral proceedings, as well as volumes of books published to prepare the bar for oral practice.

Interestingly, Mexico’s new legislation codifies the right to interpreters for those who do not speak Spanish or do not speak it well, in much more detail than does the United States’ legislation.  There are current efforts to develop licensing and training programs from the ground up, to train interpreters for this type of work, which previously had not been needed in most Mexican jurisdictions.

I recommend following Tony’s blog for updates as these changes take effect.

Thank you to all the presenters and NAJIT for hosting such an excellent event.