Bodil Martinsen, Handelshøjskolen, Aarhus Universitet
This paper presents the results of a case study of an unusual interpreting event in a Danish courtroom setting. During the trial, the interpreter’s non-normative performance was explicitly criticised by the audience and the conflict about her competence was negotiated. Because of this unusual constellation, combined with a multi-method approach, this single case study can shed some light on the question of the participants’ ability to monitor the interpreter’s performance.
Legal professional users of interpreters tend to assume that they are able to monitor and thus evaluate the interpreting if the foreign language used in court belongs to the major ones within the Danish educational system, like English or French, contrary to “exotic” migrant languages. This paper highlights the problem that the interpreted proceedings are far less transparent for the legal participants than they normally assume. This problem, in turn, stresses the importance of a) the interpreter’s competence and self-awareness and b) the use of check interpreters.