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Working With Interpreters (From Race, Culture, Psychology, & Law, P 163-176, 2005, Kimberly Holt Barrett and William H. George, eds. -- See NCJ-216932)

NCJ Number
Rachel Tribe
Date Published
14 pages
This chapter guides court personnel in working with interpreters and bicultural workers in order to ensure that individuals who do not speak the dominant language of English can receive a fair trial in an English-speaking country.
The chapter provides a brief review of the relevant research on working with interpreters, so as to assist organizations in developing guidelines for good practice in such work. Various models for interpreting language are reviewed, and related issues are discussed, such as whether interpreters should interpret the spoken word literally or also interpret significant cultural meanings and variables in the interpreted language that may bear upon the legal-psychological issues being considered in the legal forum. The chapter also considers issues relevant to the employment of interpreters, as well as the roles, rights, and responsibilities of interpreters, legal representatives, and clinicians who may work with interpreters. Suggestions are offered about how these professionals can work better with one another and improve their integration into the legal system. Some general guidelines for working with interpreters are presented. One guideline is to use the same interpreter throughout the proceedings, and another is to choose an interpreter who is not only fluent in two languages but also has some understanding of the two different cultural contexts of language use. Another suggestion is that the non-English-speaking person be told that the interpreter is a professional who has no decisionmaking power in the case and is bound by the confidentiality policy of his/her professional association. Suggestions are offered for how the English-speaking criminal justice professional can make the interpreter's job easier in translating English into the language of the non-English-speaking person. 60 references


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