Swearing a translator in

Some unfinished thoughts I ought to record somewhere:

Germany has sworn translators (as I call them – beeidigt, vereidigt – the terminology varies because the law is that of the Länder, not the federal government), but Britain doesn’t.

I sometimes read in a German translator’s English cv ‘In 19xx I was sworn in as a translator for the courts in North-Rhine-Westphalia’ or something like that. I would prefer ‘I was sworn as a translator’ or ‘I am a sworn translator’.

Is swear better than swear in?

Collins English Dictionary (my preferred one-volume one): swear in tr: to administer an oath to (a person) on his assuming office, entering the witness box to give evidence, etc.
Collins does not give this meaning for swear, only for swear in.

Garner’s Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage: swear is also sometimes used as a shorthand form for swear in – e.g. ‘Swear the witness.’

Oxford English Dictionary: swear 11 a To admit to an office or function by administering a formal oath.
(earliest usage 1049, whereas the first usage of swear in is in Evelyn’s diary in 1700)

It seems swear is OK then.

Another thing I am wondering is why, if swear in can refer to an office, I think it’s better to talk of swearing in a witness for one trial than swearing in a translator for an unlimited number of future occasions.

6 thoughts on “Swearing a translator in

  1. In Vienna, I can be and have been ‘sworn IN’ as a court interpreter – for the duration of one trial only – by a Rechtsanwalt/anwältin or an Advokat/in. Nonetheless, I am not generally a ‘sworn interpreter or translator’ in Austria.

  2. Yes, you can do that in Germany too – be sworn in if you’re not already sworn. Does that only happen in countries that have sworn interpreters? that is, is an ad-hoc interpreter sworn (in) in England?
    At all events, you seem to agree on the usage of swearing in for one trial only.

  3. Hum! There is a difference between people and evidence.

    In the UK/Eng. & Wales where there are no sworn interpreters, ad hoc interpreters swear an oath i.e. are sworn in for the duration of the trial.

    Contrast ‘un/sworn testimony’ given in court – depending on the understanding of the oath – also for one, or with leave, more Eng. trials. Category: competency of witnesses in civil and criminal proceedings.

  4. I gather interpreters are sworn in in England and Wales. [Later note: I mean: I gather from what you say that interpreters are sworn in on a one-off basis in England and Wales.) Apart from that, you’ve lost me, as usual. How much unsworn testimony is there? And you say people swear but exhibits don’t??

  5. Interpreters sworn as a gen. qualification in Eng. & Wales? This is news to me, despite Today Translations Ltd.’s UK website.

    Unsworn testimony can be given in Eng. & Wales by children and ‘subnormal’ witnesses: R. v. Hayes (1977) and R. v. Kahn (1981). But it’s unusual, I agree. Surely, the sworn (object) exhibits point is that they need humans (subject) to take the oath or affirmation.

  6. No, I was just repeating what you said – that interpreters are sworn on a one-off basis – something I didn’t know and that was the only statement made in your comment that I could understand.

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