The interpreter and her role perception in videoconference criminal court hearings

Devaux, Jerome (2018). The interpreter and her role perception in videoconference criminal court hearings. In: 6th IATIS Conference: Translation and cultural mobility, 3-6 Jul 2018, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong.



According to her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service’s (2016) report, videoconference (VC) equipment is increasingly used in criminal court settings in England. This system, often quoted as a means to reduce cost, enhance security, and speed up the legal process enables the defendant to attend virtually his pre-trial court hearing from prison.

The use of technologies has been explored in monolingual and multilingual court hearings, and various research paradigms have emerged regarding the legality of conducting such hearings, the use of VC equipment, and the impact it has on the interaction. However, the literature reveals that the interpreter’s perception of her role in such a setting remains an under-explored field of study.

This paper aims to investigate the interpreter’s perception of her role through the analysis of eighteen semi-structured interviews conducted with practising court interpreters. This paper will first introduce Llewellyn-Jones and Lee’s (2014) role-space. It will then briefly describe the methodology and research design used in this study. The data analysis will then reveal the different role-space models created by the interpreters, and the discussion will highlight the reasons why they perceive their role differently. This paper will finally provide some recommendations and avenues for further research.

Using role-space it will be argued that the participating interpreters’ role perceptions can be classified into three main categories, depending on the extent to which the use of VC equipment and/or other court participants affect their role-perception.

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