October 12, 2007
Judge dismisses ‘incompetent’ Polish translators
TWO Polish translators, from a company contracted by the Irish Court Service, were told yesterday they were not competent to translate cases at Cork District Court. Judge Con O’Leary told two translators that they were not acceptable for the task and he requested a translator from an alternative agency. The judge was critical of Lionbridge, the company under contract with the court service to provide Irish courts with interpreters in a wide range of languages.
The issue arose shortly after a female interpreter was sworn in to provide Polish translation in a case in Courtroom Two at the courthouse on Anglesea Street, Cork. Judge O’Leary asked the interpreter to provide simultaneous translation or as close as possible to that. He then told her not to engage in conversation with the defendant except to clarify an ambiguity. She agreed. The judge then asked her to explain the word ambiguity and she could not define it.
"This is another example of Lionbridge sending incompetent interpreters. You are not competent. You are not acceptable. You are free to go. You are not honest. If you do not know the meaning of the word you should say so." he said to the interpreter.
She replied that she would look it up in the dictionary. As for not stating that she did not know the meaning, she said, "Sometimes you think you understand a word."
The judge said, "You are translating words you think you know the meaning of, but do not."
The judge then asked why Lionbridge had sent a man to do Polish translation in the same court on the same day. This interpreter explained that the requests for translators had been made on different days and unfortunately two were assigned.
Judge O’Leary turned to this man and asked, "Do you know what an ambiguity means?"
He replied, "It means a few meanings — difficult to explain."
Judge O’Leary said, "No, no. Again Lionbridge have sent someone who does not understand the language."
Later in the same court an Albanian interpreter from Lionbridge was asked if he understood the word ambiguous. He said, "My understanding of the word ambiguous is that you can interpret it in more than one meaning." This translator was accepted by the judge and he provided translation for an Albanian defendant in a case that was adjourned.