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Interpreting accent in the courtroom

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Findings from research conducted into interpreted court proceedings have suggested that it is the interpreters’ rendition that the judiciary and jurors hear and upon which they base their evaluations of witnesses’ testimony. Previous research into the effect of foreign accent of witnesses indicated particular foreign accents negatively influence mock jurors’ evaluations of the testimony. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of interpreters’ foreign accents on the evaluation of witnesses’ testimony. Contrary to previous research, our results indicated that participants rated the witness more favourably when testimony was interpreted by an interpreter with a foreign language accent. Accented versions were all rated as more credible, honest, trustworthy and persuasive than the non-accented versions. This paper discusses the findings in the light of methodological concerns and limitations, and highlights the need for further research in the area.
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Keywords: credibility; interpreted testimony; juror evaluations; native accent; non native accent

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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