“Did You Say What I Heard? Language Barrier Issues in the Courts”


2.00 credits Minnesota

On-Demand Rental Charge: $125.00


Is Spanish always just Spanish? Does everyone classified as speaking Somali speak the exact same language? Just as British English and American English differ greatly and just as American English is riddled with regionalism and colloquialism, what we consider Spanish or Russian or Somali or Hmong is not the same for all speakers of that particular language. In addition, this great melting pot includes many individuals who come from a tradition of spoken rather than written language. Many of our legal concepts are unfamiliar to non-English speakers and there are frequently no words in their language for the concept at issue. 

This session will briefly explore the wide variety of languages encountered in our legal system but focus more specifically on the four languages encountered most often: Spanish, Russian, Hmong and Somali. Interpreters for each of those languages will address issues, both serious and humorous, that they have encountered working in the judicial system and suggest strategies for easing the difficulties faced by not only the non-English speaking litigants but by attorneys, judges and staff as well. A must for anyone in the legal system who deals with individuals for whom English is not their first language. 


Faculty will include: 

Heidi Barba, MN State Court Interpreters Office
Gennady Bronshteyn, Certified Russian Interpreter [GBR Interpreting & Translation]
Abdi Guled Elmi, Certified Somali Interpreter
Dr. Scott Homler, Director U of M Program in Translation & Interpreting
Sally J. Nichols, Certified Spanish Interpreter
Kazoua Yang, Certified Hmong Interpreter



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