The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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@Linguist_CIOL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 13 FEATURES use my discretion to decide which details counted as 'graphic'. I also had to maintain a composed front throughout, which was far from easy because, unlike my client, I was hearing all of the traumatic details surrounding the death and the events leading up to it for the first time. Interpreting was difficult where witnesses were distressed, their voices barely audible at times. The last thing I wanted to do was to ask the judge for permission to request repetition, but it was important that my interpreting was as accurate as possible. Another difficulty was caused by a family friend, who had come along to give moral support but who was seemingly unable to resist reinterpreting what I had already interpreted. He chatted during the hearing so that I (and family members) sometimes missed what was being said, and gave them (often incorrect) legal advice during the breaks. When it became clear that he was determined to ignore my polite requests to desist from interpreting, I brought the issue to the attention of the judge, who could and should have nipped the problem in the bud much sooner. Emotional exhaustion It was heartbreaking to see the family's growing acceptance that it was suicide, and not accident, that was the cause of death. At the outset they were adamant that this could not be correct, but their opposition visibly crumpled as the oral evidence gradually unfolded. From then on, the number of times I was required to interpret their questions and comments declined dramatically. At the end of the day, I was exhausted mentally and emotionally, despite several short refreshment and comfort breaks. The judge had constantly pushed for the case to be concluded by 5pm – presumably because the family had flights booked that night, so there was no option of adjourning until the next day. Given the number of witnesses, a two-day hearing might have made my job easier, but it would have prolonged the agony for the family. As I stepped out of the court building into the driving rain, I tried to rally myself on a job well done in difficult circumstances. I watched my clients getting into a taxi knowing that they were leaving their son in England for the last time and fought an unprofessional desire to hug them. I will never forget them or their son. The real test of how well an assignment has gone is normally whether the interpreter would be willing to accept a similar job in the future. So would I accept another inquest job like this one? No, probably not. It was far from easy because, unlike my client, I was hearing all of the traumatic details for the first time IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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