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Interpreters will hold a protest outside the Commons today about a new contract to privatise court translation services.

Members of the Professional Interpreters Alliance claim the contract could lead to miscarriages of justice because some translators lack the competence to do the job, while others have failed to turn up.
David Evans, chairman of the Lincolnshire branch of the Magistrates' Association, described how he has been hearing stories of interpreters not turning up and turning up late which means that people do not get a fair hearing.

Mr Evans said when that happens, "cases have to be adjourned and people have to be released sometimes several times before the case is finally heard."

He believes the new interpreters system is a lot worse than it was before and many interpreters feel there careers are affected badly.

"It's not just a case of using a dictionary" in court, he said. "Words have special meaning" and the old system appeared to have worked very well.

"Disaster and chaos" are not too strong words to use, he continued, adding that it should not take a large company months to "get their act together".


Hosted by the International Interpretation Translation Association, a group of four professional translators competed against three AI-powered programs provided by U.S. Internet giant Google Inc., South Korea's top Internet provider Naver Inc., and leading automated interpretation company Systran International.

Humans beat artificial intelligence (AI) language software in translation at a high-profile battle held in South Korea on Tuesday, though experts forecast the cutting-edge technology is improving at fast rate and may reach human-level accuracy soon.

Once, in a restaurant in Italy with my family, I occasioned enormous merriment, as a nineteenth-century humorist would have put it, by confusing two Italian words. I thought I had, very suavely, ordered for dessert fragoline—those lovely little wild strawberries. Instead, I seem to have asked for fagiolini—green beans. The waiter ceremoniously brought me a plate of green beans with my coffee, along with the flan and the gelato for the kids. The significant insight the mistake provided—arriving mere microseconds after the laughter of those kids, who for some reason still bring up the occasion, often—was about the arbitrary nature of language: the single “r” rolled right makes one a master of the trattoria, an “r” unrolled the family fool. Although speaking...