ALS linguist covers her mouth whilst interpreting in Worcester Magistrates' Court
On 27/03/12 I attended Worcester Magistrates Court to interpret in a case as requested by West Mercia Police. Whilst sitting in court waiting for my case to be called, I observed an ALS French linguist at "work".
The case itself was a straightforward one, a road traffic matter. The linguist (she cannot possibly be called an interpreter) interpreted about 15% of the whole proceedings, a very short summary of what was being said. When she did interpret, she did it extremely quietly, covering her mouth and looking round nervously. The magistrates were looking at her bemused as to why she would not interpret what they were saying to the defendant.
At the end of the hearing I asked the linguist why she had interpreted so little of the proceedings to which she replied that the defendant understood English fairly well. I said no more but wondered why then she only seemed to interpret when numbers were mentioned and not the legal terminology. Any bilingual person knows that numbers are some of the first words one learns when studying a foreign language, therefore the defendant wouldn't have needed help with those but with the legal jargon. The solicitor in this particular case told me that the linguist had mentioned to him that this was only her second time in court and she was nervous. Well, it was clear to me this was not just about nerves but about lack of basic knowledge of interpreting skills. This is the sort of "qualified" people ALS uses.