Four Tips on Using an Interpreter for a Deposition
If you’ve never used an interpreter while interviewing a witness in a deposition or during trial testimony, the experience can feel jarring and distracting. By knowing what to expect and how to plan, depositions that use an interpreter can still be productive. Below, find several suggestions on how to prepare yourself and your interpreter for a successful deposition.
Sit down with your interpreter before the deposition starts
Before your witness is sworn in, take a moment to speak with the interpreter in private. Try to establish a relationship with them, as you’ll need their help in making the deposition effective. Tell them that you’d like a direct translation of your questions, and not to restate or abbreviate your question on their own initiative.
Go over your anticipated questions and any terminology with the interpreter
Interpreters provide the best translation when they have some sense of what they’ll be interpreting. In order to avoid as many surprises as possible and offer some context, go over the basic facts of the case and the role the deponent plays in it. If there are any terms that are of particular importance to your interview, make sure you and your interpreter have an identical definition of those terms. Let your interpreter know if you anticipate that certain questions will hit a nerve with your deponent, or result in an argument or stonewalling. Ensure that your interpreter is willing to persist along with you in calmly seeking an answer to your questions.
Ask questions of your deponent, not the translator
Before you begin the deposition, ask the deponent about the degree to which they speak and understand English. Explain to them the interpreter’s role, and that they should always clarify any discrepancies between what they understood you to ask and how the interpreter translated the question. Make eye contact with your deponent, not the interpreter, when you ask a question. Ask questions clearly and without rushing, and avoid very long and involved questions. Avoiding speaking over anyone else will help both your translator and court reporter do their jobs well.
Make sure you get what you need
If at any point you feel like the interpreter translated your question differently than you asked it, or if you received an answer that didn’t follow naturally from what you asked, ask for a direct translation. If you allow the moment to pass without addressing your concerns, you’ll be stuck with an erroneous answer to your question in your transcript. Be sure to thank your interpreter for their work; instantaneous translation is a demanding task.
For assistance with Arizona court reporting, video conferencing, or transcription services, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates at 602-485-1488 or through our toll-free number at 866-485-1444.