Interpreting. An International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting vol:16 issue:1 pages:49-80
This paper examines how a court’s perception of the defendant’s socio-legal identity may be affected by interpreting. Since this perception relies largely on language, interpreters are expected to minimise their impact on the dynamics of direct communication between primary participants. The analysis focuses on an interpreter-mediated defendant’s examination, recorded in an attempted murder case tried before the Belgian Assize Court, identifying possible departures from the principles of orality and authenticity. The recordings include exchanges, not necessarily audible to the court, between the defendant and the interpreter. Our analysis shows that: (a) the participation framework (directness) of the defendant’s input is altered, while the relative inaudibility of the interaction between defendant and interpreter deprives the jury of access to authentic features of the defendant’s delivery; (b) the interpreter’s intervention may shift the defendant’s oral exposition into a different style, and hence condition the way the defendant is eventually perceived by the jury.