Interpreting the law

I think little bits of fact can be interesting, which is probably why I like trivia games and shows.

I came across this little tidbit regarding U.S. federal courts for the fiscal year of 2009 on the federal judiciary Web site. It was released yesterday.

The number of federal court events requiring the use of interpreters increased by 11 percent in FY 2009 (which ended Sept. 30, 2009).

Spanish remained the most used language for interpreters by far, with 302, 959 events. That is almost 97 percent of the events. The number of languages requiring interpretation increased from 113 in FY 2008 to 120 in FY 2009.

Other frequently use languages in 2009 were Mandarin (1,543 events), Vietnamese (987 events), Portuguese (776 events), Cantonese (733 events), Korean (618 events), Russian (594 events), Arabic (556 events), Haitian Creole (469 events) and Foochow (467 events).

In Nobles County, interpreters can be a large part of the judicial system as well, with Spanish coming in as the front-runner of languages most interpreted. The rest of the list would differ greatly, I would guess, and consist of languages such as Laotian, various African dialects such as Amharic and Somali, some forms of Karen language and more.

When I am covering a court case that makes use of an interpreter, I often wonder if the jury finds the process distracting. I get caught up in the languages and find myself trying to put words to words.

Then again, there are times when everyone is speaking English and I have to restrain myself from raising a hand and yelling "Ooh, ooh!" like Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter. Usually I fight the impulse when I have a question or couldn’t hear something correctly, but occasionally I want to supply an answer.

What can I say? I like trivia.

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