Is there an interpreter in the house?

Translation and interpreting have been hitting the news lately, and not always in a good way.

In particular, finding interpreters for defendants, crime victims and medical patients is an issue in several recent cases. The court in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they searched for three years and finally found an interpreter who speaks Vai, but a judge said the delay violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial. Similar cases involving interpretation issues have cropped up in other states and in other countries from Indonesia to South Africa.

The American Translators Association ( and the Association of Language Companies ( have both issued statements regarding the Maryland case offering assistance to courts to find qualified interpreters and translators. We can hope that they’ll become the first stop after the first-resort list.


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