The Passion Propelling us Forward

By Gio Lester © 2017

One of the reasons we love what we do is the impact it has on other people’s lives. We work to feed our passion for learning and helping others while we also put food on the table. Maybe the order should be reversed, but most of my colleagues will still do pro bono work or help a colleague even though they have not met their financial target on a given month or week.

The Florida Courts offer guidelines on how to perform our job, and they are very thorough:

Therefore, interpreters are obligated to apply their best skills and judgment to preserve faithfully the meaning of what is said in court, including the style or register of speech. Verbatim, “word for word” or literal oral interpretations are not appropriate when they distort the meaning of the source language, but every spoken statement, even if it appears nonresponsive, obscene, rambling, or incoherent should be interpreted. This includes apparent misstatements and ambiguities.

Interpreters should never interject their own words, phrases, or expressions. If the need arises to explain an interpreting problem (for example, a term or phrase with no direct equivalent in the target language or a misunderstanding that only the interpreter can clarify), the interpreter should ask the court’s permission to provide 15 an explanation. Interpreters should convey the emotional emphasis of the speaker without reenacting or mimicking the speaker’s emotions, or dramatic gestures.

The obligation to preserve accuracy includes the interpreter’s duty to correct any error of interpretation discovered by the interpreter during the proceeding. Interpreters should demonstrate their professionalism by objectively analyzing any challenge to their performance. — Florida Rules for Certification and Regulation of Court Reporters, pages 14-151

Florida certified FL Courtscourt interpreters are required to maintain their certification by meeting Continuing Interpreter Education (CIE) requirements. That involves expenses. And we can’t forget the biennial renewal fees of $200 (AOSC15-32)3:

Currently, in Florida, certified court interpreters feel officially threatened by the new court interpreter designations (Rule 14.100 – I. General Provisions: Language Skilled and Provisionally Approved). The issue being that individuals who work under the new designations may charge less and thus become the preferred service providers, a situation that has been witnessed by some colleagues.

The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Florida (ATIF) has stepped up to the plate and is acting on behalf of its membership. The response the membership received to their letter to Chief Judge Hon. Bertilla Soto of the 11th Judicial Circuit on April 30, 2017, was not what they expected. An extraordinary Board meeting is scheduled to discuss the matter further. We, ATIF members, look forward to the outcome of this initiative, so our Court Certified colleagues may still work to feed their passion without concerns for their livelihood. We should all stay tuned.



Brazilian-born Giovanna “Gio” Lester’s career in translation and interpreting started in 1980. Gio is very active in her profession and in the associations she is affiliated with. In 2009, she co-founded the Florida ATA Chapter (ATIF), served as its first elected president (2011-2012), and later as president of its interim board. As an international conference interpreter, Gio has been the voice of government heads and officials, scientists, researchers, doctors, hairdressers, teachers, engineers, investors and more. Gio has been a contributor to The NAJIT Observer since its inception in 2011, and its Editor since 2016. You can follow her on Twitter (@cariobana) and she can also be reached at

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