It’s been more than 2 weeks since the start of the Oscar Pistorius trial, and there has already been an impediment around language interpretation after Michelle Burger’s interpreter failed to get the English version of events right. This comes after the infuriating events of the fake interpreter at the Mandela memorial, last year December.
It seems we need to take extreme measures and focus on ways to communicate more efficiently, so we don’t always get so lost in translation, RIGHT? It’s strange that in the court of law where the livelihood of individuals is dependent on the testament of others – such blunders could ever occur? #OscarTrial
In the court of law, an interpreter is not allowed to omit any words during the process of interpretation no matter how trivial or insignificant the word may be considered, because every word expressed will ultimately determine whether actions were deliberate or not (ATTENTION TO DETAIL). The witness Michelle Burger at the Oscar trial even went as far as correcting the interpreter in English as she felt some words were not doing justice to her testimony and she was being misrepresented. I think it is important for interpreters to be professionally trained especially in the court of law. Words are power, in more ways than one, and a single unfitting word could jeopardise the entire case.
How to avoid miscommunication, generally? Keep the following points in mind:
Common cause of communication barriers include:
The use of Jargon: Avoid using over-complicated and technical terms.
Emotional barriers: Some people may struggle to express themselves emotionally and some topics may be off limits e.g. religion, sex etc. and as a result they may not be truthful.
Language differences, unfamiliar accent may cause difficulty in understanding.
Prejudices which may lead to false assumptions or stereotypes. People often have selective hearing and may draw a conclusion based on selective words.
Cultural differences – the form of expression and level of engagement of an individual vary greatly in different cultures. Be clear and specific.
Tips for effective communication: