Once, I was hired to provide interpreting services for a mental health evaluation. The person I was supposed to interpret for, and her daughter, arrived late to the appointment. The parent explained to me that she had had a hard time leaving work, but was determined to come to avoid going back to jail where she had spent three days already!
How had this happened?
It all started with some notes and calls from her daughter’s school. Because the parent didn’t speak English, her two daughters had translated the letters to her and answered the phone calls. They told her both were just standard school notifications and she didn’t need to do anything about them.
Despite her daughters’ reassurances, the parent decided to go to school just to make sure all was well, but when she got there, she was told nobody could speak to her in her mother tongue.
So, when some time later, the parent was arrested she had no idea why. After spending three days in jail, she appeared before a judge and it was then, through the interpreter provided by the court, that she learned that one of her daughters had missed so many days of school that a truancy case had been opened against her, as parent. Not knowing this, the mother had missed the hearing in truancy court and hence, a warrant for her arrest had been issued. The parent was astonished to learn this and explained to the court her version of the story. The court allowed the parent to be released on her own recognizance and asked to appear in a truancy court. It was there that the mental health evaluation I had been asked to interpret for had been scheduled.
As this case, clearly shows, translation and interpretation services are KEY for a good communication with non-English speaking people. It also underscores the serious consequences that having children relaying information to the non-English speaking parent may have. It is well understood in the industry that children lack the emotional and intellectual maturity to serve as interpreters for their parents. Not to mention the fact that, sometimes, they may have a conflict of interest as the information they are to convey may incriminate them. It is simply unfair to put them in such a position.
In order to incorporate and to connect with non-English speaking groups in your community, translation and interpretation services provided by professional translators and interpreters is a must.
If your school, hospital and/or business has non-English speaking groups, and you want to make sure that information in their original language reaches them, or you want to further discuss this topic, please, call me at 302-312-3939 or send me an e-mail me at .