The interpreter as advocate

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The principle of impartiality is one of the foundations of interpreter ethics. To privilege or penalize either side in an exchange is commonly judged to be professional malpractice and, although this is recognized, in reality it is not an easy goal to achieve. This paper provides evidence that, in many Malaysian courts, the principle is regularly flouted by interpreters who are permitted to act as advocates. The study raises a question of professional ethics which deserves the careful thought of interpreters at international level. Is there a universal and internationally applicable set of ethical principles or are such principles variable across time and space and mediated by cultural relativity? And how should the profession respond to such a situation?


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