Urdu or Punjabi - no difference, ALS linguist can only say one sentence every 5 minutes
I popped into Birmingham Crown Court on 30/03/2012.
Court 1, Pre-trial review. Punjabi interpreter required for one of the three defendants.
An ALS linguist arrives on time, but that is his only achievement of the day. The case is called in, and the linguist pulls out a sheet of paper and reads out his affirmation, stumbling over it a couple of times. He introduces himself and states "Urdu" as the language he will be interpreting into. Hold on, did he really say "Urdu" and not "Punjabi"? Yep, he did.
Anyway, he then joins the three defendants in the dock and completely ignores the judge when HH asks the defendants to stand up. Uncomfortable pause. The judge then repeats his request, now gesturing, and this time it works. The next 45 minutes are spent in complete silence for those in the dock - the ALS linguist does not even attempt to mumble, he puts his thoughtful face on instead and barely utters one sentence every 5 or 10 minutes. I have to pinch myself to ensure that this is really happening, and nobody does anything about it.
When the hearing is finished, the ALS linguist is after a signature on his timesheet. He approaches every wigged person with his request, however to no avail - they all say he needs the court clerk for that. The poor ALS linguist is unsure who the mysterious clerk is, so somebody has to walk him over and do the talking on his behalf.
I left the courtroom and sat outside when I was approached by a friend of the Punjabi lady, for whom the interpreter was booked. They wanted to speak to the press. He and the client (who said she did not understand much Urdu!) then shared with me their opinion of this particular interpreter - apparently, he made it clear to her straightaway that he was unable to interpret at the same time as others were speaking. Sorry, what was that?!
Has he ever heard of SIMULTANEOUS interpreting?! Have ALS ever mentioned to him that court hearings are very likely to require simultaneous mode? How can ALS claim that they only employ qualified linguists, all RPSIs apparently, if this particular linguist is not even aware of this crucial interpreting technique and still gets to interpret for Crown Courts?!