Bilingual courtrooms: In the interests of justice?

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Bilingual courtrooms are generally associated with the use of interpreted oral testimony to support monolingual judicial proceedings. Yet several postcolonial jurisdictions accord <i>de jure </i>or <i>de facto </i>standing to more than one language in court. The most studied is Malaysia, but the literature is far from exhaustive. Further research is to be encouraged because the way different legal systems accommodate bilingualism throws light on many questions central to forensic linguistics, including language rights, language planning in legal domains, cultural disadvantage before the law, genre-based communication strategies, and transparency of legal processes. This chapter reviews current evidence of and research into bilingual courtrooms and discusses the problems and potential benefits of including data on bilingual discourse in debates about language and justice.


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