Breaking language

Breaking language

Being multilingual landed Ledile Norah Lehobye

an exciting career that is not only stimulating but also helps ensure justice for all.

She was only 23 when, in 2009, she was recruited as an interpreter at Modimolle Magistrate Offi ce in Limpopo.

Now 32, Lehobye is the youngest court interpreter at the Pretoria North Magistrate Court. She spoke to PSM about how her love of languages has shaped her life.

 “Before starting my job as an interpreter, I worked at a bank in Modimolle as a teller, customer service consultant and enquiries clerk.

One day, a principal interpreter from the local magistrate court heard me speaking a number of languages fl uently while I was assisting people at the bank,

and he asked me if I was interested in becoming an interpreter,” she recalled. “I was a bit lost because I did not know that people had jobs as interpreters.

He explained it to me and I was intrigued. He told me that there were vacancies at his workplace and I applied.

The process took forever; by the time I got a call inviting me to an interview, I had forgotten that I’d applied for the job,” Lehobye added.

Despite this, she was offered the position and so began an exciting journey for Lehobye, who is Tsonga and has a Pedi husband.

She is able to speak Afrikaans, Sepedi, Xitsonga, English and Setswana fl uently and also knows a bit of Tshivenda and isiZulu.

After getting married, she moved to Pretoria where her husband had a medical practice

and secured a job in 2014 as an Afrikaans interpreter at the Pretoria North Magistrate Office.

Learning a new language “I have been commended for speaking Afrikaans very well,

even by people whose home language is Afrikaans. Some tell me that I even speak it better than them,” she said.

Lehobye grew up in Bela-Bela in Limpopo and Afrikaans was the most spoken language in her area; even schools had Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

“I attended Hoërskool Warmbad and the only language that was spoken there was Afrikaans.

The English teacher would sometimes speak Afrikaans during his period and I would not understand,

so I took it upon myself to learn the language. I saw it as an opportunity to grow,” she explained.

 “Every day when I got home, I would speak to my dad in Afrikaans, and he would buy me Afrikaans newspapers and books, and I would read them.

That enabled me to take my knowledge of the language to the next level,” Lehobye added.

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