The role of the court interpreter: a powerless or powerful participant in criminal proceedings?
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The interpreter’s activity in a courtroom bilingual context is of fundamental importance for understanding to be achieved between the participants of legal proceedings. Although the key position of the interpreter in any legal process results from legal provisions, his/her role as court interpreter is defined differently: interpreters are perceived as invisible persons in the courtroom, intermediaries in communication, experts of language and culture or visible and active partners in communication. This paper analyses what actual role is played by an interpreter in judicial interaction. For this reason two transcriptions of audio recorded criminal hearings involving interpreters in Austrian and Polish courts were subjected to Critical Discourse Analysis. The analysis showed that the appointed interpreters are independent and active participants of the interaction who also play roles unrelated to their professional role and change the course of the proceedings through their own interventions.
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