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A study on the impact of interpreter intervention in the Maltese Criminal Courts

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The human right to an interpreter for minority-language speakers in criminal proceedings is protected and provided for under European and Maltese law. This study considers whether the provision of interpreting has an impact on the criminal trial in Malta. To answer this question, two lines of inquiry were followed in the three cases studied: firstly, on the particular communicative context, to understand contextual expectations vis-à-vis court interpreting and secondly, on the roles interpreters adopt in court. Ethnographic research was undertaken and data collected through observation during court hearings, recorded field notes and the transcribed audio recordings of three case studies. An interdisciplinary approach was adopted, through the use of elements from 1) the law, 2) forensic linguistics, 3) interactional sociolinguistics, and 4) critical discourse analysis, which were applied in the analysis of collected data. The data show that interpreter action in court does not always meet specific contextual expectations i.e. the interpreter as a “conduit”, or as a “faithful renderer of utterances”, with a resulting impact on the context in both form and content. Other roles based on interpreter action may sometimes be observed, but difficulty was found in matching observed action with roles established in the literature.
Journal: Interpreters Newsletter
ISSN: 1591-4127
Volume: 26
Pages: 97 - 115
Publication year:2022