Legal Translation and Interpreting,
and Dealing with Linguistically Diverse Clients

Legal Translation Services for International Clients

Certified translation and deposition interpretation services come in handy in the practice of law. Inexplicable surprises abound when attorneys first begin to deal with culturally and linguistically diverse clients and opponents.

Consider the following hypothetical. It is late on a Friday afternoon and the settlement negotiations for a complex personal injury case have just fallen through. A stressed-out trial attorney reluctantly turns to his secretary and asks her to start looking for a Taiwanese interpreter for a three-day trial set to start Monday morning. A dozen frantic phone calls later his secretary throws her arms up in distress.

It is the zero-hour and instead of finalizing his opening argument, the trial lawyer starts dialing translation companies whose Web pages come up in a Google search for “Taiwanese court interpreter”. Finally, he is rewarded when he reaches – and hires- a translation company that promises to deliver.

On Monday morning, when the Taiwanese court interpreter appears, the attorney immediately realizes that something is very, very wrong – the Taiwanese interpreter doesn’t speak his client’s language.

It turns out that his client speaks Taishanese, not Taiwanese. Taishanese is a Chinese dialect spoken in the district of Taishan in Canton (also known as Guangdong) Province.

But in English “Taishanese” sounds deceptively similar to “Taiwanese”, another dialect of Chinese spoken by 70% of the population of Taiwan. Now the attorney is left with no choice but to approach opposing counsel – and the judge – and embarrassingly tell them he hired the wrong interpreter.

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