Translation of Foreign Language Slang in Court

Foreign Slang Translation Services

Often times foreign language documentary evidence will contain slang terms that lack an exact interpretation. When this situation arises, the court will begin by asking the parties to stipulate to an accurate translation. If the parties are unable to reach a stipulation, the court will require each party to submit its own version of the translated document during trial.

At trial, when a party attempts to introduce the foreign language evidence through a foreign language interpreter, the attorney must begin by requiring the foreign language interpreter to “identify the English word that most closely captures the ordinary meaning” of the slang word. This is opposed to the standard practice of interpreting words and phrases non-literally so they make sense in English.

Furthermore, the court will often asks the parties to submit a glossary of the slang terms used as part of their documentary evidence. In doing so, the party submitting the glossary will have to establish that the foreign language interpreter and/ or translator who drafted the glossary is an expert as to the use of foreign language slang.

See U.S. v. Rivera, 442 F.Supp.2d 274 (E.D. Va. 2005).

Click here for additional information on admitting foreign language translation as documentary evidence, and for information on interpreting excited utterances in a foreign language during legal proceedings involving a foreign language court interpreter.

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