The Couch

The Couch: We know better because…

The Couch is a place to exchange ideas and brainstorm, not only for its contributors but also for our readers who engage in the ensuing discussions. Sometimes, you may not agree with what an interpreting department in another state says is the right way. Thank you to this week’s contributor for the Couch idea.


You are working remotely for a state other than your own for a dependency and neglect hearing. That state’s office prescribes you a deemed proper equivalent for dependency and neglect in your working language, whose broad and literal English translation could be: “Treating a person or an animal with cruelty, harshness, or thoughtlessness, or failing to provide needed care [maltrato], and omission, negligence, and lack of care [descuido].” But in your own state, the English name for the hearing is different: DNA cases, or dependency, neglect, and abuse cases. You are accustomed to using your own equivalent for this term in your home state, and so in the state for which you are working remotely, you are inclined to use a term whose rough definition in English could be: “Situation in which a person is unable to care for him/herself [dependencia] and omission, negligence, and lack of care [descuido].” But you are told by the supervising interpreter from outside your home state that they selected the word maltrato, “Treating a person or an animal with cruelty, harshness, or thoughtlessness, or failing to provide needed care” rather than abuso, “To deal improperly with a person of lesser experience, strength, or authority” because, says the head interpreter, maltrato is a broader term than abuso. In any case, neither maltrato nor abuso properly convey the idea of dependency and neglect.

How many things are wrong with this scenario (terminologically not procedurally) if any? And what would you do about it if anything?


Please note: If you have a topic you’d like to see discussed at The Couch, write to the Editor. The comments section here should be used only to reply to the issue under discussion today. When you submit a question or topic for The Couch, we will make sure to remove all information that might make the parties or case identifiable.

Body picture It’s My Way… Or the Highway! by Ishan Manjrekar at flickr, under CC BY 2.0

2 thoughts on “The Couch: We know better because…”

  1. Carmen Mustile says:

    Each State court website should list the correct terminology for each procedure, civil, criminal or family, I often ask information about the case to which I am assigned and 4 our 5 it is not available, especially federal.
    I need to read about the case beforehand in order to be accurate terminologically speaking, my language combination does not offer many family or criminal cases, so I need to rely on the online court streaming to practice and numerous well informative done webnairs. Thank you

  2. Sylvia J. Andrade says:

    You would need to know if this case were family law, dependency, juvenile delinquency, criminal law, a contested adoption case or what, in order to know which terms to use. A conservatorship case would require a different type of vocabulary. You would need this information anywhere. With custody you would need to know whether they were talking about legal or physical custody– words completely different in Spanish.

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