“Google Translate is a useful tool with an alarming capacity for error.” That’s what a Pennsylvania District Judge wrote in his October 2021 ruling on a case that involved obtaining information from a Spanish-speaking driver through the app. The incident, which reignited questions about whether Google Translate is sufficient for requesting consent to search, has highlighted the need for legal interpreters in law enforcement.


Fortunately, remote options have made connecting with a legal interpreter faster and easier than ever. But before we dive into how remote legal interpreting helps ensure justice, let’s take a look at the use of Google Translate in law enforcement.


A Brief History of Google Translate in the Courts


In 2018, Ryan Wolting, a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper, pulled over Omar Cruz-Zamora, a Mexican native with a U.S. visa. Wolting used Google Translate to ask several questions, including whether he could search Cruz-Zamora’s vehicle. Upon obtaining consent, he found 14 pounds of cocaine and methamphetamine.


However, the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits search and seizure without a warrant or probable cause. That means Cruz-Zamora had to clearly consent to the search first. Yet the literal translation generated by Google Translate could be considered unclear. As a result, a Kansas court ruled that Cruz-Zamora couldn’t have clearly consented and granted his request for a Motion to Suppress evidence.


In 2020, another judge cited the 2018 decision in his ruling on a similar case, and agreed that Google Translate wasn’t sufficient for obtaining consent. This time, the judge didn’t grant the driver’s request to suppress the officer’s finding: a large package of opioid fentanyl.


That brings us to the most recent case involving Brenda Ramirez-Mendoza, a Spanish-speaking driver who was pulled over for speeding. This time, the mistranslation was captured by the officer’s body camera.


The Remote Interpreting Advantage


As you can see, Google Translate is not only insufficient for obtaining consent, but reliance on the app can change the course of a ruling. Yet waiting for an interpreter to arrive onsite is often impractical or even impossible, depending on the language needed. And that’s where remote legal interpreters come in.


Thanks to advances in technology, remote options such as video remote (VRI) and over-the-phone (OPI) interpreting are now accessible through a laptop or cell phone. With the Boostlingo interpretation platform, you can connect with a certified legal interpreter in minutes. All you need is an internet connection and a webcam for video calls. You can even use the Boostlingo app to request an interpreter through your smartphone or tablet.


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Despite the increasing demand for interpreters, those who hire them typically know little about the profession. As a result, numerous misconceptions about training, requirements, and costs continue to spread. To dispel some of the misinformation, we’re tackling three of the most common myths about interpreting.


  1. Anyone who is bilingual can be an interpreter. While someone must be fluent in two or more languages to interpret, it’s only the first step. Professional interpreters typically complete a specialized interpretation program which includes a minimum of 40 hour of training on linguistics, best practices, and ethics. Medical interpreters and legal interpreters must also obtain federal and/or state certification and complete continuing education units to maintain it.


In addition to training, professional interpreters must adhere to a code of ethics and remain neutral. Asking an employee, friend, or family member to interpret can create a conflict of interest, and may be illegal in some situations.


  1. Interpreters and translators are interchangeable. The words “interpret” and “translate” are often used interchangeably. However, the two roles are very different. An interpreter translates orally from one language to another, while a translator translates the written word.


In some instances, an interpreter will need to review a short document and translate it orally. This is known as sight translation, which is a hybrid of translation and interpretation. However, sight translation isn’t appropriate for longer documents such as a patient’s bill of rights. When you have a longer document or need a copy in another language, you should hire a professional translator.


  1. Professional interpreters are too expensive. Depending on the specialization and language pair, an onsite interpreter can cost upwards of $100 per hour. For many organizations, the cost may make hiring someone seem out of reach. Yet the cost of not hiring a professional interpreter may be even greater. Interpreting mistakes—especially in the medical and legal fields—can lead to expensive, and sometimes catastrophic errors.


When budget constraints are an issue, remote options such as over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote (VRI) can serve as affordable alternatives to onsite interpreting. When you hire a remote interpreter, you’ll save time and money because you can connect with someone in minutes and forgo the transportation costs.


How Boostlingo Can Help


As you can see, professional interpreters—whether onsite or remote—play an essential role in communication and industry compliance. However, you may be unsure of how to find one that meets you needs. That’s where we come in.


With the Boostlingo interpretation platform, you can connect with an interpreter either over the phone or via video remote in minutes. All you need is an internet connection and a computer or tablet for video calls. Plus, you’ll get access to the Boostlingo Professional Interpreting Network (BPIN), which includes over 10,000 interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


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As the 2022 Open Enrollment Period nears, health insurance providers are gearing up to assist millions of people who wish to enroll in affordable coverage. From November 1st to December 15th, U.S. citizens and legal residents will be eligible to purchase health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces. Yet a lack of access to language services often stands in the way of limited English proficiency (LEP) speakers from doing just that.


Bilingual Customer Service or Remote Interpreters?    


While information about Open Enrollment is available in multiple languages, this isn’t always enough. Why? Because navigating the U.S. health insurance system can be challenging—even for native English speakers. In fact, a 2019 Health Insurance Literacy survey found that 51% of respondents didn’t fully understand basic insurance terms. Now imagine how much more difficult choosing a plan must be for the 23% of marketplace plan enrollees who speak another language at home.


Fortunately, remote interpreters can bridge the language gap and help ensure everyone finds a health plan that fits their needs. While bilingual customer service representatives serve a vital role, they aren’t always available during peak hours. Nor is it realistic to hire enough staff for every language your customers may need. By connecting with a remote interpreter when necessary, you’ll reduce wait times, enroll more customers, and boost customer satisfaction.


Over-the-Phone Interpreting (OPI)


When it comes to customer service, over-the-phone (OPI) interpreting is the most accessible option. Anyone calling from a landline or a cell phone without a data plan can speak with an interpreter in minutes. It’s also the most efficient way to assist from a call center.


Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) 


Video remote interpreting (VRI) works well when you want to create a more personal connection. Health insurance agents who typically meet customers in person can use VRI to replicate an onsite meeting remotely. It’s also a great way to provide language services during a virtual session where attendees can ask questions and enroll in plans. And last but not least, it allows you to assist customers who use American Sign Language (ASL).


How Boostlingo Can Help


Now that you know the benefits of remote interpreting, it’s time to find a platform that meets your needs. With Boostlingo, you can connect with an interpreter in minutes—either over the phone or via video remote. All you need is internet access and a computer or tablet with a webcam for video calls. Plus, you’ll gain access to our Boostlingo Professional Interpreting Network (BPIN), which includes over 10,000 interpreters who speak over 200 languages.


Think Boostlingo may be right for you? Request your free trial today!

Nestled on the island of Hispaniola, Haiti is known for its beautiful beaches, rich cultural heritage, and resilient people. Yet due to the triple tragedy of natural disasters, gang violence, and COVID-19, thousands of Haitians are fleeing their homeland. Even those who make it to the U.S. still face shurdles before establishing a permanent home. One of those hurdles? The lack of access to Haitian Creole interpreters.

Although French is an official language of Haiti, only 5 to 10% of Haitians are functionally bilingual in both languages. And while Haitian Creole traces its roots back to French, they aren’t mutually intelligible. That means French interpreters are typically unable to accurately interpret for Haitian Creole speakers.

French vs. Haitian Creole

Haitian Creole wouldn’t exist without French. In fact, the two languages share about 90% of the same vocabulary. Yet Haitian Creole differs from contemporary French in several significant ways. Here are just four:

  • Pronunciation. Haitian Creole is based on 17th Century French, which is why pronunciation differs from contemporary French.
  • Vocabulary. Haitian Creole vocabulary has been influenced by Spanish, Portuguese, West African languages—and more recently—English. Many cognates also have different meanings.
  • Grammar. Verbs aren’t conjugated in Haitian Creole. The tense is understood based on the presence or absence of a tense marker that precedes the verb. Genders for nouns are also largely absent.
  • Spelling. Haitian Creole has its own orthography.

Given these major differences, it’s easy to see why a French interpreter would struggle when working with a Haitian Creole speaker. The problem lies in the fact that there are roughly 274 million French speakers worldwide compared to 10 to 12 million Haitian Creole speakers.

Haitian Creole and Remote Interpreting

Fortunately, remote interpreting options have made it easier than ever to connect with a Haitian Creole interpreter, regardless of location. Both over-the-phone (OPI) and video remote  interpreting (VRI) serve as fast, affordable alternatives to onsite sessions. With remote interpreting, you can connect with a Haitian Creole interpreter in minutes—which is especially important in settings such as healthcare. It can also help you assist Haitians who need to access legal aid, social services, and more.

With the Boostlingo Unified Interpretation Platform, you not only gain access to OPI and VRI options, but the Boostlingo Professional Interpreting Network (BPIN) as well. Haitian Creole is just one of over 200 languages available, and that includes On-Demand 24/7 service for OPI. (We recommend pre-scheduling VRI calls.)

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