2.2 Szantova Giordano

| September 2, 2020

Stella Szantova Giordano. (2012). “We Have to Get By”: Court interpreting and its impact on access to justice for non-native English speakers. International Journal of Law, Language & Discourse 2(2), 17-42.

Abstract: Non-native English speakers find themselves on an unequal footing in American courts. While some of them possess reasonable proficiency in conversational English, almost all have poor or no proficiency in legal English, including the complex legal terminology used in the courtroom. Since legal language is heavily dependent on the legal system in which it is used, litigants who lack this understanding may fail to fully appreciate what is transpiring in the courtroom. Worse still, interpreters who lack it may interpret inadequately or completely incorrectly. While American federal and state judiciaries purport to provide nonnative English speakers with equal access to justice through court interpreters, the reality is that the existing court interpreting system fails to protect their rights. Two pivotal problems are the lack of certification programs for prospective interpreters of minority languages and a deficient system of court interpreter appointment, often resulting in the selection of unqualified “interpreters.” This article explores the issues in the current court interpreting regime and suggests systemic improvements in court interpreter appointment and administration.

Keywords: court interpreter, access to justice, legal language, nonnative English speakers


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Category: Volume 2