How Many Interpreters Does It Take to Interpret the Testimony of an Expert Witness? A Case Study of Interpreter-Mediated Expert Witness Examination

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Abstract

Through the analysis of the discourse of an interpreter-mediated expert witness examination in a Korean criminal courtroom, this paper examines challenges in obtaining evidence from an expert witness through unskilled interpreters and the related complexity of participation status during the multiparty interactions, namely the courtroom examination. This paper, drawing on the participation framework theories, demonstrates how all participants are engaged in negotiation and interpretation of the meaning of the expert testimony. The two unskilled interpreters, who are primarily responsible for interpreting, collaborate with each other in order to achieve communication when they face problems or difficulties in the other’s interpreted rendition. However, despite the collective efforts to accurately obtain and understand the expert evidence accurately, such efforts are not always successful in the absence of skilled interpreters. Based on these findings, this paper argues that a team of unskilled interpreters is not sufficient to accomplish the demanding task of interpreting expert evidence, and further, the court needs to be meticulous about the quality of courtroom interpreting which have potential implications for achieving just legal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-208
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Court interpreting
  • Expert witness
  • Participant role
  • Untrained and unskilled interpreters

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