The Importance of Accurate Interpretation

Interpretation is critically important, here’s an example of why;

South African interpreters at the Oscar Pistorius trial had been criticized for “ropey translations” (poor interpreting) during the former double-amputee Olympic sprinter’s court proceedings for the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend and South African model.

It began with a 90-minute delay to the start of the trial, after the court interpreter employed to convey witness testimonies from Afrikaans to English never appeared. Her replacement was subsequently criticized for “inexperience”, with the witness, Michelle Burger, repeatedly correcting her English. As the defence questioned why Burger had described the evening of the shooting as “confusing”, she explained that the interpreter misunderstood what she said and that her “words are not exactly the same”. 

The next day, a new interpreter appeared in court, but lawyers immediately questioned her accuracy after she interpreted “noises” as “gunshots” and international correspondents were complaining that she is “harder to understand than the last one”.

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