Conference Agenda

PP-Th-am - S3 -4: Parallel papers Thursday morning
Thursday, 04/Jul/2019:
11:00am - 1:00pm

Session Chair: Joseph MacFarlane
Location: Seminar room 3
Storey Hall level 7

11:00am - 11:30am

Understanding legal rights in NZ: reflections on where to from here

Bronwen Innes, Rosemary Erlam

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Comprehension of legal rights is an important issue in access to justice. When detaining suspects of crimes, NZ police read them a summary of their rights under the Bill of Rights Act 1990. This paper begins with outlining a study which aimed to determine how far L1 and L2 speakers obtain a full understanding of their rights from that summary. Listening and reading comprehension tests were devised for that purpose and administered to over 80 people. The results of those tests showed difficulties (and not just for L2 speakers) and predictably a significant difference between L1 and L2 speakers (Innes and Erlam 2018). Our findings lead to questions as to how much understanding is ‘enough’ and whether we should be doing more to ensure that people can understand this information when they need it. One possible next step is to offer a revised version of the rights information. The paper therefore goes on to present such a revision and discusses police and other responses to that.


Innes, Bronwen and Rosemary Erlam. 2018. Did he understand his rights? Assessing the comprehensibility of police cautions in New Zealand. International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law Vol 25.1: 21-51

11:30am - 12:00pm

Improving asylum seekers’ access to justice in the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal via a culturally appropriate interviewing protocol

Dian Diaan Muniroh1,2, Jessica Findling1, Georgina Heydon1

1RMIT University, Australia; 2Universitas Pendidian Indonesia

Gathering information in refugee related tribunal matters has attracted ongoing academic interest. This interest exists because cases commonly rely on the asylum seekers’ claims, often without supporting evidence. Accordingly, how this information is gathered can also restrict an individual’s access to justice, as do other important factors such as issues of cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication. Consequently, a suggestion for improving asylum seekers’ access to justice in the Australian Refugee Review Tribunal is by engaging with a culturally appropriate interviewing protocol. The proposed interviewing protocol includes aspects of both the Cognitive Interview (CI) and PRIDE. These particular interviewing frameworks are proposed because CI has been a benchmark for police investigations in many Western countries since the 1990s, particularly because of its ability to elicit reliable and detailed information. Additionally, although PRIDE was initially developed to address barriers faced by indigenous Australians when participating in an interview in English, its overarching principles appear relevant to a cross-cultural setting. Therefore, to best support asylum seekers to provide as much accurate and detailed information as possible the proposed interviewing protocol would need to first address: 1) communication and questioning in a cross-cultural setting and 2) power and authority in questioning. While the proposed protocol is not without limitations, using current evidence-based interviewing frameworks provides a credible platform to begin to explore and address some fundamental aspect of human rights – a platform that all participants in the justice system should have access to.

12:00pm - 12:30pm

Language is not like water in a citizenship faucet

Margaret M van Naerssen

Independent Consultancy, United States of America

Myth: When a person becomes a citizen, you don’t just turn on the faucet

and out comes a full flow of English! (Greenlee, p.c.)

Misunderstandings about language and nationality, can affect legal rights, e.g., language analyses might be used inappropriately to determine nationality (LADO).

This presentation takes another focus: How is citizenship used as evidence of language proficiency? Thus, once non-native English speakers (NNESs) become naturalized US citizens, they don’t need interpreting support. After all, they passed the citizenship test and took the Oath of Allegiance! A related myth is: A NNES adult has lived in the US, for 10 years, so no interpreting support is needed. Such myths might contribute to lack of due process.

The presenter shares resources from an expanding “backpack” for linguists encountering myths in forensic contexts. While contexts differ across legal systems, the contents might point to shared concerns. McNamara & Kelly (2011) examine fairness and justice in literacy testing in the Australian citizenship testing.

The “backpack” has two pockets. One holds linguistic evidence related to the US citizenship process: 1) citizenship classes; 2) interviewing and testing procedures (including Winke’s civics test study 2011); and 3) the Oath of Allegiance. There is the text analysis of the Oath by Feuerherm & Loring (2018) and observations of the citizenship ceremony. All address concerns about the reliability of the Oath as evidence of advanced English proficiency.

Pocket Two holds general evidence including language acquisition, assessment, and sociolinguistic factors, and developments in US citizenship testing (Kunnan, 2008, 2009).

12:30pm - 1:00pm

(Un)translatability in Indigenous language interpreting in Australia’s justice system

Dima Rusho

Monash University, Australia

Ngaandi is a Yolŋu Matha term which English translates simply as ‘mother’, but in reality, the term is also used to refer to many other women in the Yolŋu kinship system (e.g. mother’s sister, brother’s son’s wife, mother’s brother’s son’s daughter, etc.) (Morphy, 2006). It is clear then that the English term ‘mother’ falls well short of encapsulating the breadth of meaning given to ngaandi, but with no equivalent in Anglo-Celtic kinship, the task of accurately translating a term like ngaandi is near impossible. With accuracy being one of the most fundamental general principles of legal interpreting and translation, the question of (un)translatability is one that Indigenous language interpreters have to grapple with constantly. This paper explores translatability in relation to Indigenous language interpreting in legal contexts in Australia, particularly in the area of family law. It examines the differences between Indigenous and Western conceptualizations of a number of legal notions including familial/kinship relations and Parental Responsibility, and how differing linguistic expressions of such notions contribute to the complexities of Indigenous language legal interpreting. The paper also highlights a number of innovative projects tackling untranslatability and suggests that a collaborative approach involving native Indigenous language speakers provides the best pathway towards improving legal interpreting and translation. Data is drawn from existing research into a variety of Indigenous languages as well as original data from interviews conducted with legal professionals and interpreters in the Northern Territory.