Courtroom Interpreting

Ludmila Stern

in The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199239306
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Courtroom Interpreting

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  • Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Forensic Linguistics


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This article describes the concept of courtroom interpretation. Legal interpreting is a branch of interpreting conducted when speakers of different languages have to communicate in legal or paralegal settings. Each legal system has its own unique court procedures, legal concepts, and terms that sometimes have no equivalent in other languages. This cultural asymmetry of legal systems creates substantial interpreting difficulties. In order to interpret competently, court interpreters must be well versed in legal terminology. The role of the court interpreter is to make communication possible between speakers of different languages. A courtroom interpreter has ethical responsibilities to fulfill. The challenges to courtroom interpreting include lack of bilingual legal dictionaries, obstacles to pragmatic influence etc. Court interpreters require training, in both interpreting skills and court interpreting. Effective courtroom interpreting can only be achieved by the professionalization of interpreters through compulsory education, adequate working conditions, and professional remuneration for effective multilingual dialogue.

Keywords: courtroom interpretation; legal interpreting; cultural asymmetry; legal systems; interpreting difficulties; pragmatic influence; multilingual dialogue

Article.  6996 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation ; Forensic Linguistics

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