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The significance of interpreting modes for question–answer dialogues in court interpreting

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Studies of court interpreting have so far neglected interpreters’ choice of mode for interpreting question–answer dialogues, though their choice of mode may impact the way questions and answers are reproduced and received by end receivers. Typically, the (short) consecutive mode, regarded as the more complete mode, is recommended for interpreting these dialogues, because it facilitates the inclusion of features such as hesitations, discourse markers, repetitions etc. which play a significant role in identifying speaker meaning. Moreover, in courts without interpreting equipment, answers interpreted in the simultaneous (whispered) mode will be inaudible to end receivers. Nevertheless, as demonstrated in this article, which is based on a survey among court interpreters in Denmark, some interpreters ignore official recommendations and choose strategies for interpreting questions and answers which potentially hinder the flow of information between the original speaker and listener and the accurate and complete translation of original utterances. Furthermore, Danish courts seem to accept the court interpreters’ behaviour, despite its potential consequences for trial outcomes. The article discusses the reasons for this passivity and its wider implications.
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Keywords: Denmark; consecutive interpreting; interpreter behaviour; note-taking; short consecutive; whispered interpreting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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