Just an Interpreter

Several years ago, when interpreting in a deposition in Osaka, the lead interpreter was having problems entering the US Consulate. It seemed that his name was not put on the list of people to participate in the deposition. While cooling my heels in the waiting area, the deposition-taking attorney brought the problem up to a Consulate person at one of the service windows. The exchange was an interesting look of the view of interpreters held by some people.

Attorney: “We have someone who has been told they cannot enter the Consulate and has been waiting for more than 20 minutes to get in.”

Consulate: “Which side is he representing?”

Attorney: “It’s not an attorney, just an interpreter.”

Right. Well, there you have it. Naturally, the attorney in question could not conduct his deposition without the interpreter, who was just an interpreter waiting to enter the Consulate.

Don’t Interpret, Just Translate: Familiar Terms of Art for Some are Not so for Others

One day many years ago, I was interpreting in a deposition of a Japanese witness in the US Embassy in Tokyo. A question was raised about an expression I used in interpreting a response from the deponent. The expression I used was ultimately accepted, but during the discussion I happened to explain that “I had interpreted the expression ABC as XYZ.” Someone piped up in the room to say “Please don’t interpret, just translate.” This is a seemingly lost battle on the part of language service providers to have people understand the difference between translators and interpreters (and sometimes linguists). More on this elsewhere.

Depositions in Japan Remain in a Holding Pattern During the Pandemic

A recent check of the website for citizen services at the US Embassy in Tokyo and consulate in Osaka shows that reservations of deposition rooms are still suspended, with rooms unavailable until further notice. This has been the situation since the pandemic struck here and shows no sign of changing any time soon.

Options for parties wanting to take depositions of personnel normally resident in Japan include having the witness(es) leave Japan to be deposed, in which case attorneys and support personnel such as interpreters and reporters can either be at the location with the witness or participate online.

We provided interpreting services in just such a manner last year after the pandemic struck. Prepping was done online before the witnesses left Japan, after which the witnesses travelled to the US and the attorneys and support personnel were spread over several locations in Japan and the US. It worked quite well and eliminated concerns about having to be tested before leaving Japan (a non-trivial issue) and concerns about the return to Japan being troublesome because of possible quarantining.