Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Blasco Mayor, M.J., & del Pozo Trivino, M. (Eds.) (2015). Legal Interpreting at a Turning point/La Interpretacion En El Ambito Judicial En Un Momento De Cambio-MonTI 7

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

Blasco Mayor, M.J., & del Pozo Trivino, M. (Eds.) (2015). Legal Interpreting at a Turning point/La Interpretacion En El Ambito Judicial En Un Momento De Cambio-MonTI 7

Article excerpt

MonTI (Monographs in Translation and Interpreting) is an academic, peer-reviewed and international journal series (1) that is published by three Spanish universities with T&I programs (Universitat d'Alacant, Universitat Jaume I de Castello and Universitat de Valencia). MonTI has a special topic for each issue. In past years these have included 'Multidisciplinarity in Audiovisual Translation' and 'Applied Sociology in Translation'. This issue, MONTI's seventh, is the first one dedicated to legal interpreting.

A key reason for an issue to be dedicated to legal interpreting is what has happened in Europe over the last 10 years or so. Given that some contextualisation of these events is required, where opportune this review will compare the development of the discipline in some European countries to that in predominantly Anglophone countries.

In many if not most countries of continental Europe, court interpreting, which refers to inter-lingual transfer performed in a courtroom by a suitably qualified or trained person, has a long history. The code-law tradition of these countries, which purports to provide an exhaustive system of laws in both civil and criminal law jurisdictions, has often included specifications about which types of protagonists can appear in court in an official capacity. This meant that where court proceedings required interpretation, this was not allowed to be provided by just any person with bilingual and interpreting skills, but by an officially sanctioned practitioner, often called a court sworn interpreter. In Spain, the title is traductor/a-interprete jurado/a ('sworn interpreter and translator'), in Germany it is Gerichtliche/r Dolmetscher/in ('courtroom interpreter') and in Croatia it is sudski tumac ('court interpreter').

Traditionally, in European countries of the code law tradition, those wishing to become 'court interpreters' possessed the following, at least as desirable attributes: demonstrated high proficiency in foreign language/s (preferably a university degree); demonstrated knowledge of domestic legal terminology and legal procedures; ability to interpret consecutively. Commonly, candidates wishing to become court interpreters must apply to the relevant country's Ministry of Justice and sit for its interpreting test. However, while the code law tradition requires formal credentialing of protagonists in courtroom, it does not contemplate those working outside it. As a result, in many European countries, historically there have been few or no proficiency standards for non-court interpreting, and seldom if ever any formal requirement to provide an interpreter for certain key interactions such as lawyer-client, and even police-suspect or police-witness. National credentialing systems privileged one kind of situation as deserving of certain standards, and had little to say about other ones. Due to mass migration to most parts of Western Europe in the post-WWII period, coupled with increasing levels of European internal migration, the demand for interpreting services Europe-wide has increased greatly. A system which officially sanctioned interpreting in one setting, but not in others, has become untenable.

Moving outside Europe to predominantly Anglophone countries, we find the following situation in the United States. In that country, the certification of court interpreters is loosely co-ordinated by the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), which is the professional body for American court interpreters and translators. Various American states have different requirements and different testing authorities that administer the test. Pre-test training is typically offered by private providers and the certification exam is offered individually by a nominated authority in each state sometimes a university institution, sometimes a court authority, sometimes a private enterprise or agency. The contact details of each state's authority are provided by a US federal government authority: the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts (formerly the 'Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification'). …

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