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Monday, June 15, 2015

About Spanish translation of Council meetings

Simultaneous translation is one solution,
but with its own set of issues.

City Council is to be commended for taking up resident Carlos Ponton's suggestion that Spanish translation of the Council's meetings be provided so non-English speakers can participate fully.

Bernice wrote about the matter on Friday (see here), but I have some further questions, especially since there is no text of the resolution online (see the Council agenda here).

Here goes --
How does the Council plan to assure that the translation meets some standards of impartiality and accuracy -- as, for instance, with court translators?

This is important not only because the Council and the Mapp administration do not always see eye to eye, it is also the case that there are factions within the Latino community itself and having impartial and accurate translation is important on that score.

Add to the the fact that there are many flavors of Spanish spoken by Plainfield residents hail from all the countries of Central America, plus Mexico and more. What becomes the 'standard' on which to settle?
Should the Council select an employee or hire an outside 'consultant'?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Will the translation be simultaneous or not?

If simultaneous, what is the technology involved? Will the city have to purchase transmitting equipment and headsets or have a cellphone app created for this purpose?

If sequential instead of simultaneous, how will stop-and-start translating affect the length of Council meetings and what can be done about that?
Hiring a translator and providing the necessary technology will mean a cost to the city.

Out of whose budget will that be covered? And how will it be covered, since this is a new expense and the 2015 budget has already been amended and is set to be adopted?
Then there are the 'fine print' matters.

The Spanish translation of Councl proceedings will be a public record.

It will need to be stored and retrievable at the public's request. How will that be handled?

What about executive sessions? Though the discussions take place out of earshot, a record must be kept. Does that mean keeping a record in Spanish also? Will the same translator do that? Will they be allowed in to executive sessions?
A whole lot of questions need to be addressed to move ahead wisely with this important decision.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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