Friday, September 13, 2013

Lost in translation: A trial halts while lawyers search for an acceptable interpreter

By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun September 13, 2013
Justice is hard enough to get when everyone speaks the same language. But when they don't, it's fraught with peril.
It's so fraught that at times, like Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court, a trial needs to be stopped until everyone involved is satisfied that what is being said is perfectly understood and perfectly interpreted.

For Mumtaz Ladha, it's particularly crucial. She is accused of human trafficking, employing a foreign national without authorization and misrepresenting facts to both the Canadian High Commission in Tanzania and to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The problem is not that Ladha can't make herself understood. The 60-year-old is a Canadian citizen, who speaks fluent English and Swahili.
It's her alleged victim - a 26-year-old Tanzanian woman with a Grade 8 education - who is having a hard time because she speaks Swahili and only limited English.

Since she began testifying Wednesday, the court-accredited interpreter has struggled to translate both from English into her particular Tanzanian dialect of Swahili and then from Swahili back into English. More:


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