Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost in Translation - The Price of a Word

What could cost taxpayers in New South Wales tens of thousands of dollars? New taxes? Construction projects? None of the above— the bill is tagged to the alleged mistranslation of the Indonesian word “push” after it caused a criminal trial to be aborted.

The problem arose when a juror who spoke Indonesian wrote a note to the judge about “some discrepancies in the translation” of the questions tasked to an accused Indonesian smuggler. The juror cited two examples:

1. The phrase “did you stop anyone moving” was allegedly mistranslated as “did you push anyone”.

2. The word “push” was allegedly used versus the word “deny”.

The juror’s allegations were aimed at the second interpreter used for the case after the first one was criticized by the smuggler’s lawyer.

Ultimately, Judge Freeman agreed that the case had to be aborted as the juror who made the allegations shared his observations with rest of the jury.

“In a sense, that juror has become like a witness in the trial … Now that is a situation which we can't allow to exist, because at the end of the trial I have to be in a position where I say to you that the evidence upon which you reach your decision is that which comes from the witness box,” the judge said.

*Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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