Karen Leal

Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Language, Literature and Translation (MA)

Committee Chair

Norris, Lola O.


The disciplines of translation and interpreting have long been testament of the power that the transfer of words can impart on a civilization. The disciplines are broken down into specialized fields that each have their own requirements to implement the use of interpreters and translators in various sections of life. Legal translation and court interpreting fall under one of these specialized fields. The implementation of interpreters and translators within the federal court setting can be found in United States’ code and requires an extensive and rigorous training and examination to fulfill the line of work. However, state and local, or municipal, courts do not require the same legal trainings and certifications. This thesis explains the requirements asked of translators and interpreters within court settings, providing history, detailed explanations of the disciplines, and the findings of interviews conducted in the Laredo, Texas area regarding legal translators and court interpreters. Four participants, a legal translator, a court interpreter, and two legal personnel were separately interviewed for this case study. The author’s first-hand observations of court proceedings are also documented to further illustrate the current state of legal translators and court interpreters within the area. The current status of Laredo legal translators and court interpreters has not been reported prior to this thesis. The findings of this thesis concluded that there are not enough qualified legal translators or court interpreters in the area. It also found that the contrast between legal systems, their procedures and terminology, cause little strain on qualified court interpreters or legal translators. The use of bailiffs, who are not certified as interpreters or translators, and readily available bilinguals around the court area is seen often in lower courts, while state-certified interpreters can be seen in working in federal court and state courts. In terms of perceptions of legal translators and court interpreters by legal personnel, it was discovered that different professions call for different interactions and views on legal translators and court interpreters.