Who is speaking?

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This study examines how interpreters represent the voice of judges and counsel versus that of lay participants in the interpreted talk, using three interpreter-mediated criminal trials from the Hong Kong courts. The findings reveal a consistent shift from direct to reported speech or an omission of first-person reference when interpreting legal professionals’ utterances from English to Chinese – a phenomenon which existing literature does not seem to be able to explain satisfactorily. This study seeks to add a new dimension to the issue and argues that the differentiated interpreting styles may have stemmed from the interpreters’ uneasiness in assuming the voice of the powerful participants due to the power asymmetry in the courtroom. This study also discusses the impact of the interpreting styles on the role of the court interpreter and on the illocutionary force of the speech act.


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