Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PP-Tu-am-S2-4: Parallel papers Tuesday morning seminar room 2
Tuesday, 02/Jul/2019:
11:00am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: Makiko Mizuno
Location: Seminar room 2
Storey Hall level 7

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Perceptions, Expectations, and Opinions of Court Interpreting in Japan

Jihyeon Kim

Waseda University, Japan

The purpose of this study is to identify the primary perceptions, expectations, and opinions that legal practitioners hold towards court interpreters, and their evaluation of current court interpreting services in Japan. In this paper, a total of 19 semi-structured interviews with judges, attorneys, prosecutors, and other relevant institutions (e.g. Japan Criminal Affairs Bureau) were carried out during June 2018 – May 2019. In addition to the semi-structured interviews, field observations and document research regarding the implementation of court interpreting services and training seminars available for court interpreters were conducted. The data was used for both quantitative and qualitative analysis to describe and theorize their personal views and experiences of working with court interpreters based on relevant interpretation theories. The study focuses on five areas that have been underexplored in recent research: perceptions towards accuracy and credibility of interpretation, minimum qualifications expected from interpreters, evaluation on the quality of interpreting services, responses to incompetent performance by interpreters, and areas for improvement from a policy perspective. The results will be further analyzed to discuss legal practitioners’ beliefs on whether current court interpreting services deliver the linguistic quality necessary for accurate comprehension and evaluation of testimonies by foreign defendants and witnesses. Preliminary results suggest that policy developments such as the establishment of a standardized court interpreter accreditation system, joint seminars between judicial participants and interpreters, and wider educational opportunities for court interpreters are necessary to achieve the desired level of accuracy and competency that legal practitioners expect from court interpreters.

Communication Issues of Open Questions in Legal Interviews

Makiko Mizuno1, Umidahon Ashurova2

1Kinjo Gakuin University, Japan; 2Kinjo Gakuin University, Japan

Questioning is one area where institutional talk can differ substantially from everyday conversation. Both police interviews and courtroom testimony mostly take a question and answer format, and it is the powerful parties-lawyers and police-who mostly ask the questions. As Loftus (1979) states, “The form in which a question is put to a witness exerts a strong influence on the quality of the answer”. The open form of questions, for instance, is often used by attorneys to encourage the witness tell the story more freely and without being lead. Then, what about the testimonies that involve legal interpreting? What influence will the interpretation make on the quality of answer, particularly when the interviewee is a minor?

Past linguistic analyses of legal interpreting proved the interpreter’s influence on the flow of exchanges; their speech styles and lexical choices determined the impressions of jurors; the interpretation of attorney’s questions to a witness influenced the ensuing exchanges. (Mizuno et al. 2016) In line with these analyses, our experiments with 37 Japanese-English interpreters in 2016 and interpreter-mediated mock legal interviews of six children in 2018 showed that the interpreting may hinder the intended ambiguity of the open questions; through inappropriateinterpreting the ambiguity may be lost and the interpretation may add the elements of ‘leading’.

The presenters will share their findings on interpretation and/or misinterpretation of open questions, and how they have influenced the responses from interviewees. Several suggestions will be made on what can be done for training legal interpreters in Japan.

Challenges posed in simultaneous interpreting at patent court proceedings: A case study of pilot hearing at the Patent Court of Korea

Jieun Lee

Ewha Womans University, Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Although the official language of the court in South Korea is Korean, the international chamber of the Patent Court of Korea is an exception. The Court Organisation Act was amended in order to allow languages other than Korean to be accepted as the official language of the international chamber. In that court, a hearing may be conducted in English and litigation parties can present their cases in English while simultaneous interpreting is provided. In preparation for the launch of the international chamber, the Patent Court held a pilot hearing in which two litigating parties communicated in English as a lingua franca (ELF). This case study seeks to examine various challenges posed in simultaneous interpreting at the patent court proceedings based on the analysis of the plaintiff’s attorney's opening argument and the interpreted renditions provided by five conference interpreters who participated in this case study and interviews with six interpreters, including the one who actually interpreted at the pilot hearing. The findings indicate that various factors, including ELF-related factors, recitation of text, limited access to visual aides, and the technical aspect of patent technology, created extremely arduous working conditions for the interpreters and negatively influenced the interpreters’ performance and job satisfaction. The results strongly suggest that the court and the legal counsel should work in close cooperation with interpreters to ensure effective communication and quality interpreting.

Strategic uses of courtroom questions vs. interpreted questions in select Philippine criminal cases

Sabina Maria Mabutas1, Marilu Ranosa Madrunio2

1University of Santo Tomas, Philippines; 2University of Santo Tomas, Philippines


To ensure that judicial justice is served well, fairness and equality must be well-established in the legal system. One of the manifestations of a fair dispensation of justice is the presence of court interpreters who assist in eliminating language barriers in court proceedings. The influence of the interpreter’s rendition of courtroom questions on the credibility and competence of lawyers is a critical issue. This paper seeks to analyze the features of interpreted questions from audio-taped interpreter-mediated courtroom examinations in five criminal court proceedings. Using Woodbury’s (1984) courtroom-based typology of questions, the researchers analyzed both the original and interpreted questions. Likewise, using Hale (2004) as framework, their pragmatic functions specifically their level of control and illocutionary force, were examined. Differences between the original English questions and interpreted Filipino questions were also noted. Results revealed that there is no one-to-one correspondence between the percentages of English questions and Filipino versions of the same types. Likewise, results revealed that the alterations made by the interpreters were brought about by their focus on the propositional content alone as they are unfamiliar with the different uses of question types in court. Lack of equivalents in the Filipino language is also another reason. Finally, reiterating the questions, omitting pertinent details in questions, and altering lexical details of the questions were some strategies employed by the interpreters during the questioning process.

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