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An Analysis of Student Legal Interpreting Errors

“That Is Not the Question I Put to You, Officer”: An Analysis of Student Legal Interpreting Errors

Jo Anna Burn[1]
Auckland University of Technology, Auckland

Ineke Crezee
Auckland University of Technology, Auckland

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Abstract

Court interpreting is a challenging and highly skilled profession. Legal questions are designed to achieve a large variety of functions. Often the true function is not the most obvious, the meaning is not literal, or there is no direct lexical or grammatical equivalent in the target language. Preparing interpreting students for interpreting legal questioning is very difficult and best achieved by exposing learners to a wide range of question forms in a safe practice environment. In order to ascertain which question types are most difficult to interpret, the authors undertook an analysis of question forms extracted from courtroom discourse, had students interpret these questions, and then conducted an error analysis of the interpreted utterances. The extracts were taken from YouTube clips of televised New Zealand High Court murder trials and were interpreted by 17 student legal interpreters into eight different languages. Certain question forms proved more difficult to interpret accurately than others. Suggestions are provided for interpreter educators to best prepare students for courtroom interpreting.

Keywords:

legal discourse, question forms, court/legal interpreter training, audiovisual interpreting practice, situated learning approaches

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[1] Correspondence to: jburn@aut.ac.nz