|No interpreting awards for Judy today.|
We really enjoy poking fun at our own mistakes, so here's Judy's interpreting blunder of the month. Ready?
During all formal legal proceedings, it's appropriate to address everyone formally when speaking Spanish. As opposed to English, in Spanish we have the informal pronoun "tú" and the formal ''usted," which are both used for the second person singular (you). Now, there are no real hard rules on this, but when in doubt, it's best to address anyone formally in any business setting, unless you are talking to friends, colleagues or children. Judy's unofficial rule of thumb is to address every person who appears to be older than 12 formally. Thus far, this strategy has worked quite well.
However, a few weeks ago, Judy was called to a deposition to assist a young girl. Given Judy's estimate of the girl's age, she addressed her informally, which did not seem to bother the girl in the least. Everything was going smoothly until the deposing attorney asked for the deponent's date of birth, which is quite common during some civil depositions. With one short answer from the deponent, everything changed.
Attorney: "What's your date of birth?''
Judy interprets: "¿Cuál es tu fecha de nacimiento?"
Deponent: "'14 de julio de 1975.''
Judy interprets: ''July 14th, 1975.''
Judy (internal dialogue): Holy cow! This deponent is older than I am! I can't believe I have been addressing her informally. She sure doesn't look like she will be 38 this year! How disrespectful of me. Grr. Where can I find a hole to hide in? Ah, there is no hole. I must soldier on. This stinks. Is this deposition over? Oh no, it just started.
Needless to say, Judy was absolutely mortified, but no one else seemed to notice. Lesson learned: no more guessing deponent's ages. Just default to the formal way of address and stick to that -- it's just safer. Now, it would have been great to find out what skin cream the deponent uses, but alas, court interpreters don't get to ask questions about skin care routines, so we don't know. It's probably just genes. Final lesson: good thing Judy never worked as a bouncer at a bar.