The Linguist

The Linguist 53,2

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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26 The Linguist APRIL/MAY FEATURES Magistrate and legal interpreter Nil Okan Paniguian offers the view from both sides of the bench I am in the unique position of being a Magistrate as well as a public service interpreter. It all began 15 years ago, when I sat the DPSI (Diploma in Public Service Interpreting) and Met Police test as part of my continuous professional development. After working as an interpreter and Turkish language tutor, I was offered work as a trainer, examiner and setter for the DPSI, BSC (Bilingual Skills Certificate) and DipTrans (Diploma in Translation), which I continue to do part-time. Working as a NRPSI-registered interpreter, I gained some legal knowledge and familiarity with court procedures in England. I wondered if I could offer more to my community by serving as a Magistrate, even if this would restrict the interpreting assignments I could take on. In 2006, I was accepted as a Magistrate for Hounslow Bench, now part of West London Local Justice Area (LJA). Among the required skills are working as a member of the team, which involves questioning colleagues to clarify issues, using non-discriminatory language and building supportive relationships; self-management, including agreeing roles and responsibilities, checking conflicts and identifying the requirements of court users; and making judicial decisions by sifting, clarifying and analysing information, and challenging any bias or prejudice. It is interesting to observe court procedures from both sides of the bench. Both magistrates and interpreters are there to enable the justice system to run smoothly, yet when you look at each set of expectations from another perspective, you can see that some areas are more important for the interpreter than the legal professional, and vice versa. It is bridging this gap that should concern us. Whichever hat I'm wearing, I am uncomfortable when the prosecution, defence or another party does not take the interpreting into consideration. Even now, it is not clear to me whether it is the Legal Advisor or the Bench Chair who should draw attention to the fact that everything is being interpreted and therefore that the pace ought to be adjusted. There have been cases where the Bench Chair has indicated this requirement, and if a winger realises that the interpreter is having difficulty with the pace, they might also draw the Bench Chair's attention to this. The gap in expectations While interpreters like to be familiar with a case in advance in order to avoid unexpected terminology, magistrates expect the interpreter to be familiar with terminology straightaway. Yet, however well qualified the interpreter, there will always be areas where culture, customs and other factors come into the equation. A well-qualified interpreter may In the dock Even now, it is not clear to me who should draw attention to the fact that everything is being interpreted

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