Addendum to Interpreter’s Oath: New Conditions Make High Quality Impossible

__________________________

Whereas,

I am a court interpreter duly sworn to render a complete and accurate interpretation to the best of my ability;

I am bound by the interpreter’s code of ethics to make the competent judicial authority aware of any obstacle or impediment to fulfilling this oath;

Simultaneous interpreting is mentally and physically taxing and requires complex cognitive skills employed at a very high level which is impossible to maintain for an extended period of time;

Studies have shown that “interpreting skills will continue to significantly deteriorate after a thirty minute uninterrupted interpreting task”;[1]

To safeguard the integrity of interpreting services, and to insure that the quality does not decrease due to interpreter fatigue, the presiding judge may:

  • (a) designate two or more interpreters to work as a team (recommended for trials or lengthy proceedings) or 
  • (b) provide frequent breaks for an interpreter working alone”;[2]

The industry standard for this switching of interpreters is at twenty minute intervals in order to reduce the impact of interpreter fatigue upon the quality of interpreting, as well to safeguard the health and well-being of interpreters;[3]

Therefore,

I respectfully inform your honor that in the absence of a colleague with whom to work as a team, I will require a 20 minute break after every 20 minutes of simultaneous interpreting to ensure due process and uphold my oath before the court.

[signed]

___________________

[1] Gabrian, Jessica and Gerard Williams. “The Effect of Interpreter Fatigue On Interpretation Quality.”

[2] Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 5, Ch. 5 of Court Interpreters Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1827, Last revised (Transmittal 05-002) June 9, 2011. http://www.uscourts.gov/uscourts/FederalCourts/Publications/Guide_Vol05.pdf.

[3] Gabrian & Williams, supra.

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