Research Methods in Legal Translation and Interpreting by Biel ucja;Engberg Jan;Martin Ruano M. Rosario;Sosoni Vilelmini;

Research Methods in Legal Translation and Interpreting by Biel ucja;Engberg Jan;Martin Ruano M. Rosario;Sosoni Vilelmini;

Author:Biel, ucja;Engberg, Jan;Martin Ruano, M. Rosario;Sosoni, Vilelmini;
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (CAM)
Published: 2019-04-11T16:00:00+00:00

3 Outline of the study

The aim of this chapter is to describe the self-positioning of a professional court interpreter and its influence on the court interaction. Since discourses are not produced without context and can not be understood without consideration of the context (Titscher et al. 1998, p. 181), the study has been triangulated through ethnographic methods: an observation of the trial, a post-interview with the interpreter, and a survey among the participants in the proceedings. By doing so, not only is the linguistic dimension of the interpreter’s actions taken into account but also the dialectical relationship between the interpreter’s role behaviour and the institutional and interactional framework.

The core of the study is the analysis of a trial at the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna, in which a Polish interpreter was involved. The subject of the hearing was a dangerous threat and resistance to state authority. The trial was audio-recorded. The agreement of all participants was obtained at the beginning of the hearing, and the interpreter was contacted by telephone before the appointment.

The trial was transcribed using EXMARaLDA according to the HIAT-method (Ehlich and Rehbein 1976). The peculiarity of the “semi-interpretive work transcription” (in German HIAT) lies in its notation convention, namely the score notation (cf. Rehbein et al. 2004, p. 6). Each interaction partner is assigned his/her own action line – a score. In addition to a verbal and a translation track, the transcripts contain several annotation tracks, in which non-verbal communication, way and speed of speaking, volume and actions of the communication partners are recorded. The transcription should be a detailed, “natural” reproduction of the recorded interaction, in which such aspects of oral communication as hesitation, thinking aloud, self-corrections, and dialectal formulations are depicted as accurately as possible (see “literary transcription”, Rehbein et al. 2004, p. 11).5 All utterances in Polish were translated into German. All names and personal data were replaced by cover names, numbers or a description. Each speaker was assigned an abbreviation derived from their function: Judge = J, Defence Counsel = DC, Prosecutor = Pr, Defendant = D, and Interpreter = I.

The role perception of the court interpreter involved was investigated by a semi-standardised guideline interview following the hearing. The guideline consisted of open questions and included several thematic areas, i.e., career, conception of one’s own role, and norms of professional ethics.

In order to examine the participants’ expectations of the court interpreter, a qualitative questionnaire was carried out after the hearing. Through a series of open and semi-open questions, the first part of the questionnaire examined the participants’ expectations and their perception of the interpreters’ role. In the second part, a selection of tasks and functions of court interpreters was presented to them for evaluation of their importance on a four-point scale.

The study results are only valid for the case under investigation and they cannot be generalised to the entire court action context. There is no claim to representativeness of the data.


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