Blog Articles

 Andre Habarugira

The first time I went to court in 2012 for Kinyarwanda interpretation, the challenges I faced marked a turning point for me in the implementation of glossary building. Glossary building is a term used to refer to the act of collecting difficult terms in their alphabetical order and find their explanations and meanings in other languages The legal officer with whom I went to court had explained to me that he would be on ‘watching brief’. That was also my first time to come across the legal term “counsel on watching brief.”

While in court, I took oath and the court clerk handed me a charge sheet to sight-translate to the client. The latter was accused of being “rogue and vagabond.”  “How do you plead?” asked the magistrate, as I was interpreting into Kinyarwanda. After pleading not guilty, the accused was informed that he had the right to apply for bail. He was requested to produce substantive sureties, unfortunately he did not have any. When he also failed to prove that he had a fixed place of abode this prompted the magistrate to adjourn his case to a later date.

I must admit that the thirty minutes I spent in court made me sweat! I struggled to find the direct equivalents of the words “rogue and vagabond, counsel on watching brief, how do you plead, substantive sureties, fixed place of abode” in Kinyarwanda, yet it is my native language.

On another occasion, I was asked to do Kinyarwanda interpretation in a workshop organized by the Refugee Law Project. The same challenge re-occurred when I had to interpret the words “Access to Justice, Gender and Sexuality, Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing, Media for Social Change, Conflict, Transitional Justice and Governance” which are the five thematic programmes of the Refugee Law Project.

Later, during other interpretation sessions, I came across the words “gender, PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), gender non-conforming, depression, stress, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), flashback, positive thinking, group therapy,” and other words like “affidavit, plea bargaining, output, outcome, affirmative action, screening” and the same challenge of finding direct equivalents into my native language re-surfaced.

These interpretation challenges reminded me of what I had learnt back during my community interpreter training; that professional interpreters prepare for every assignment by learning specialized vocabulary and researching about the subject matter. I discussed the challenges with my teammates. We then embarked on a long and rigorous linguistic research that gave birth to the “RLP Community Interpretation Glossary Reference Manual” in December 2015. Keeping in mind that some concepts in English don’t have equivalents in other languages, we have so far managed, with the help of Refugee Law Project officers, to compile more than 1336 terms, expressions, acronyms and concepts that are difficult to interpret. We documented them, defined them and got their equivalents into Kinyarwanda, French, and Kiswahili languages. This linguistic activity was geared towards building our interpreting and translating capacity and was one step in a broader initiative to standardize and harmonize our interpretation and translation services. The ultimate goal was and still is to find equivalents for all those terms and others we may add on later into all Refugee Law Project community interpreters’ working languages.

Glossary Building is a rewarding activity

This manual has become a reference for all our Community Interpreters and has greatly mitigated the challenges they used to face when interpreting. Interpreters have got the basic terminologies, their meanings and equivalents in different languages, thus making their interpretation much better, more efficient, more consistent, and more confident.

glossary building remains an intellectually stimulating exercise that gives one an exciting opportunity to learn new words, terms and expressions from languages. If for example the official language is English, always be keen to listen to English speakers and note down difficult terminologies they use and later endeavor to find their equivalents in native languages or vice versa. Every time you come across a new word or expression, add it to your glossary, document it and translate it. That’s how you will gain correct terminology and good knowledge of the subject matter you are interpreting, and will be able to interpret more efficiently and confidently.

The author is the Ag Coordinator of the Assessment, Intake, Community Interpretation and Reception Unit of the Refugee Law Project, Kampala-Uganda, with over 7 years’ experience as a Community Interpreter.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

By Davis Uwizeye (Published 28th July 2016)

Today, 28th July 2016, marks sixty-five years since the adoption of the 1951 UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES, a refugee protection instrument that was adopted on 28th July 1951 to address the refugee crisis in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was later amended by the 1967 Protocol to remove the limitations of time and geographical boundaries, thus making it a universal instrument. It is both a status and rights-based instrument that is underpinned by a number of fundamental principles most notably; non-discrimination, non-penalization and non-refoulement.

Despite growing criticism from a section of technocrats, diplomats and scholars, the fundamental significance and endurance of the 1951 Convention is still undeniable. It remains the only binding refugee protection instrument of a universal character.

Continue Reading

By Davis Uwizeye (Published 6th June 2016)

Most refugees & asylum seekers have had their self-esteem crushed and their hopes shattered by the inhumane and degrading acts that they encounter before, during and sometimes after flight, and the last thing they need is someone who spitefully revisits those wounds. 

As assessors at Refugee Law Project we interact with refugees from all walks of life on a daily basis. From our experience we have learned that, whether we are able to meet their needs or not, what really matters most for the majority of our clients is the way we treat them.

Continue Reading

Learn More

Do you know about the National Memory & Peace Documentation Centre?

A collaborative initiative of the RLP and the Kitgum District Local Government. The NMPDC is located in Kitgum district town council - Northern Uganda an area ravaged by over two decades of armed conflict and is struggling to recover in the post-conflict era...
Learn More

Follow Us on Twitter

Upcoming Events & Special Days

Contact Us

  • Plot 7 Coronation Road, Old Kampala, Kamplala (Opp. Old Kampala Primary School)
  • +256 (0) 414 343 556
  • +256 (0) 800-100555
  • info@refugeelawproject.org
  • Find on Map