Volume 18, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1598-7647
  • E-ISSN: 2451-909X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper examines the fundamentals of professionalism focusing on the code of ethics as a pivotal parameter. Attention is paid to the difficulties of implementing two of the core principles of codes of ethics for interpreting in a refugee context: impartiality and accuracy. The aim of this article is to explore interpreters’ appreciation of these principles and self-identification with them versus actual observance in refugee settings. Ninety-six US-based interpreters completed a survey on self-perceptions regarding adherence to the principles and real actions performed. Findings show that a high number of interpreters do not comply with the principles despite having previously declared their full endorsement and self-identification with them. Impartiality presented more deviations than accuracy. Internal and external demands have proven to be stronger than adherence to the code. Calls to rethink and refine codes of ethics for interpreting in a refugee context are also presented.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. AIIC
    AIIC 1999 Practical Guide for Conference Interpreters. Available at: aiic.net/p/628
  2. Angelelli, Claudia
    2004aRevisiting the interpreter’s role: a study of conference, court, and medical interpreters in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 10.1075/btl.55
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.55 [Google Scholar]
  3. 2004bMedical Interpreting and Cross-cultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511486616
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511486616 [Google Scholar]
  4. Angermeyer, Philip Sebastian
    2015Speak English or What? Code switching and Interpreter Use in New York City Courts. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bahadir, Sebnem
    2010 The task of the interpreter in the struggle of the other for empowerment: mythical utopia or sine qua non of professionalism?Translation and Interpreting Studies, 5(1), 124–139. 10.1075/tis.5.1.08bah
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tis.5.1.08bah [Google Scholar]
  6. Baker, Mona
    2006Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account. London and New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203099919
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203099919 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bancroft, Marjory, Lola Bendana, Jean Bruggeman & Louis Feuerle
    2013 Interpreting in the gray zone: Where community and legal interpreting intersect. Translation & Interpreting, 5(1), 94–113.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Bámbaren-Call, AnaMaria, Marjory Bancroft, Nora Goodfriend-Koven, Karen Hanscom, Nataly Kelly, Virginia Lewis, Cynthia Roat, Liliya Robinson & Lourdes Rubio-Fitzpatrick
    2012Interpreting Compassion A Needs Assessment Report on Interpreting for Survivors of Torture, Trauma and Sexual Violence. Available atvoice-of-love.org/Accessed5/5/2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Barsky, Robert
    1996 The interpreter as intercultural agent in convention refugee hearings. The Translator, 2(1), 45–63. 10.1080/13556509.1996.10798963
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.1996.10798963 [Google Scholar]
  10. Boéri, Julie & Carol Maier
    (Eds.) 2010Translation Interpreting and Social Activism. Granada: ECOS.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Boéri, Julie
    2015 Key internal players in the development of the interpreting profession. InMikkelson, Holly & Renée Jourdenais (Eds), The Routledge handbook of interpreting (41–56). Oxon & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Bossers, Ann, Jean Kernaghan, Lisa Hodgins, Lean Merla, Charlene O’Connor & Monique Van Kessel
    1999 Defining and developing professionalism. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(3), 116–121. 10.1177/000841749906600303
    https://doi.org/10.1177/000841749906600303 [Google Scholar]
  13. Davidson, Brad
    2000 The interpreter as institutional gatekeeper: The social-linguistic role of interpreters in Spanish-English medical discourse. Journal of Sociolinguistics (4)3, 379–405. 10.1111/1467‑9481.00121
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00121 [Google Scholar]
  14. Dysart-Gale, Deborah
    2007 Clinicians and medical interpreters. Negotiating culturally appropriate care for patients with limited English ability. Family and Community Health30, 237–246. 10.1097/01.FCH.0000277766.62408.96
    https://doi.org/10.1097/01.FCH.0000277766.62408.96 [Google Scholar]
  15. Dragovic-Drouet, Mila
    2007 The Practice of Translation and Interpreting During the Conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia (1991–1999). InSalama-Carr, Myriam (Eds.), Translating and Interpreting Conflict. Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi BV, 29–40. 10.1163/9789401204385_004
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789401204385_004 [Google Scholar]
  16. EULITA European Association for Legal Interpreters and Translators. Code of Professional Ethics
    EULITA European Association for Legal Interpreters and Translators. Code of Professional Ethics 2013 Available athttps://eulita.eu/wp/wp-content/uploads/files/EULITA-code-London-e.pdf
  17. Evetts, Julia
    2013 Professionalism: Value and ideology. Current sociology, 61(5–6), 778–796. 10.1177/0011392113479316
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0011392113479316 [Google Scholar]
  18. Fatahi, Nabi, Lena Nordholm, Beng Mattsson & Michael Hellström
    2010 Experiences of Kurdish war-wounded refugees in communication with Swedish authorities through interpreter. Patient Education and Counselling, 78(2), 160–165. 10.1016/j.pec.2009.03.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2009.03.010 [Google Scholar]
  19. Fenton, Sabine
    2004Expressing a well-founded fear: Interpreting in convention refugee hearings. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 50, 263–270.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Fishbein, Martin, & leek Ajzen
    1975Belief, attitude, intention, and behaviour. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. García-Beyaert, Sofia, Marjory Bancroft, Katherine Allen, Giovanna Carriero-Contreras & Denis Socarrás-Estrada
    2015 Ethics and standards for the community interpreter. An international training tool. The Community Interpreter: An International Textbook. Culture & Language Press1–30. Available athttps://static1.squarespace.com/static/5597f49ce4b07b7dda504921/t/55a6ad4be4b0cc965b19ff73/1436986699900/Interior+Contents+TCII+Textbook+BW.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Gentile, Paola
    2017 Political Ideology and de Deprofessionalisation of public service interpreting: The Netherlands and the United Kingdom as case studies. InValero Garcés & Rebecca Tipton (Eds.) 2017 Ideology, ethics and policy development in public service interpreting and translation. Bristol-Blue Ridge Summit PA, USA: Multilingual Matters. 63–83. 10.21832/9781783097531‑008
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781783097531-008 [Google Scholar]
  23. Goldstein, J.
    1976 Professional mobility in Israel’s secondary schools: Results of a survey of attitudes. Educational Administration Quarterly, 12, 51–67. 10.1177/0013131X7601200205
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0013131X7601200205 [Google Scholar]
  24. Granger, Emily & Martyn Baker
    2003The role and experience of interpreters. Working with interpreters in mental health. Hove, UK: Brunner–Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Greenhalgh, Trisha, Nadia Robb. & Graham Scambler
    2006 Communicative and strategic action in interpreted consultations in primary health care: a Habermasian perspective. Social Science & Medicine, 63 (5), 1170–1187. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.033
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.033 [Google Scholar]
  26. Hatton, Diane & Teresa Webb
    1993 Information transmission in bilingual, bicultural contexts: A field study of community health nurses and interpreters. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 10(3), 137–147. 10.1207/s15327655jchn1003_2
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327655jchn1003_2 [Google Scholar]
  27. Hebenstreit, Gernot, Alexandra Marics, and Jim Hlavac
    2017 Professional ethics and professional conduct. InUNHCR (Eds.), Handbook for Interpreters in Asylum Procedures, 70–84. Vienna: UNHCR. Available atwww.unhcr.org/dach/at/trainingshandbuch
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hewit, William
    1995 Model code of professional responsibility for interpreters in the judiciary in court interpretation: Model guides for policy and practice in the State Courts. Available atshorturl.at/lFUVW
  29. Hsieh, Elaine
    2008 “I am not a robot!” Interpreters’ views of their roles in health care settings. Qualitative health research, 18(10), 1367–1383. 10.1177/1049732308323840
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732308323840 [Google Scholar]
  30. Hwa-Froelich, Deborah & Carol Westby
    2003 Considerations when working with interpreters. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 24(2), 78–85. 10.1177/15257401030240020401
    https://doi.org/10.1177/15257401030240020401 [Google Scholar]
  31. Inguilleri, Moira
    2010 Afterword by Moira Inguilleri. Exploring the task of the activist translator. InBoéri, Julie & Carol Maier (Eds.), Translation Interpreting and Social Activism. Granada: ECOS. 152–155.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Kaczmarek, Lukasz
    2016 Towards a broader approach to the community interpreter’s role: On correspondence between role perceptions and interactional goals. Interpreting, 18(1), 57–88. 10.1075/intp.18.1.03kac
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.18.1.03kac [Google Scholar]
  33. Keselman, Olga, Ann Christin Cederborg, Michel Lamb & Örjan Dahlström
    2010 Asylum-seeking minors in interpreter-mediated interviews: what do they say and what happens to their responses?Child & Family Social Work, 15(3), 325–334. 10.1111/j.1365‑2206.2010.00681.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2206.2010.00681.x [Google Scholar]
  34. Leanza, Yvan
    2005 Roles of community interpreters in pediatrics as seen by interpreters, physicians and researchers. Interpreting, 7(2), 167–192. 10.1075/intp.7.2.03lea
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.7.2.03lea [Google Scholar]
  35. León Pinilla, Ruth
    2015 La interpretación en el contexto de refugiados. Camino hacia el bienestar. Ph. D. Dissertation. Universitat Jaume I of Castellón.
  36. Metzger, Melanie
    1999Sign language interpreting: Deconstructing the myth of neutrality. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Merlini, Raffaela
    2009 Seeking asylum and seeking identity in a mediated encounter: The projection of selves through discursive practices. Interpreting, 11(1), 57–92. 10.1075/intp.11.1.05mer
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.11.1.05mer [Google Scholar]
  38. NAAJIT. National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
    NAAJIT. National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators 2011 Available athttps://ethics.iit.edu/ecodes/node/3570#main-content
  39. NCIHC. National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare
    NCIHC. National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare 2004A National Code of Ethics for Interpreters in Health Care. NCIHC, Washington, DCAvailable athttps://www.ncihc.org/assets/documents/publications/NCIHC%20National%20Code%20of%20Ethics.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Ng, Thomas W. & Feldman, Daniel C.
    2008 The relationship of age to ten dimensions of job performance. Journal of applied psychology, 93(2), 392. doi:  10.1093/workar/wau003
    https://doi.org/10.1093/workar/wau003 [Google Scholar]
  41. NSGCIS. National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Services
    NSGCIS. National Standard Guide for Community Interpreting Services. Available athttps://multi-languages.com/interpretations-shtml/interpreters_ethics-shtml/
  42. Patel, Nimisha
    2003 Speaking with the silent: addressing issues of disempowerment when working with refugee people. Working with Interpreters in Mental health, 219–237. Available atwww.refworld.org/docid/49b6314d2.html
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Pennsylvania rules of professional conduct for interpreters. Act 172 of 2006 (42 Pa.C.S. §§ 4411(e). and 4431(e). Available atwww.pacourts.us/judicial-administration/court-programs/interpreter-program/interpreter-rules-of-conduct
  44. Pöllabauer, Sonja
    2004 Interpreting in asylum hearings: Issues of role, responsibility and power. Interpreting, 6(2), 143–180. 10.1075/intp.6.2.03pol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.6.2.03pol [Google Scholar]
  45. Roberts, Roda
    1997 Overview of community interpreting. InSilvana Carr, Roda Roberts, Aideen Dufour & Dini Steyn (Eds.), The Critical Link: Interpreters in the Community. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 127–138. 10.1075/btl.19.03rob
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.19.03rob [Google Scholar]
  46. Roy, Cynthia
    1999Interpreting as a Discourse Process. New York: Oxford University Press, USA.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Rudvin, Mette
    2007 Professionalism and ethics in community interpreting: The impact of individualist versus collective group identity. Interpreting, 9 (1), 47–69. 10.1075/intp.9.1.04rud
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.9.1.04rud [Google Scholar]
  48. UNHCR Self-Study Module 3: Interpreting in a Refugee Context
    UNHCR Self-Study Module 3: Interpreting in a Refugee Context 2009 Available athttps://www.unhcr.org/publications/manuals/4d944d229/3-refugee-annex-3-interpreting-refugee-context.html
  49. Splevins, Katie, Keren Cohen, Stephen Joseph, Craig Murray, & Jake Bowley
    2010 Vicarious posttraumatic growth among interpreters. Qualitative Health Research, 20 (12), 1705–1716. 10.1177/1049732310377457
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732310377457 [Google Scholar]
  50. Tipton, Rebecca, & Olgierda Furmanek
    2016Dialogue interpreting: A guide to interpreting in public services and the community. Oxon & New York: Routledge. 10.4324/9781315644578
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315644578 [Google Scholar]
  51. Todorova, Marija
    2017 Interpreting at the border: ‘Shuttle interpreting’ for the UNHCR. CLINA: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Communication, 3(2), 115–129. 10.14201/clina201732115129
    https://doi.org/10.14201/clina201732115129 [Google Scholar]
  52. Tribe, Rachel & Jean Morrissey
    2003 The refugee context and the role of interpreters. Working with Interpreters in Mental Health, 198–218.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Tymoczko, Maria
    2003 Ideology and the position of the translator: in what sense is a translator “in between”?InMaria Calzada Perez (Ed.). Apropos of Ideology –Translation Studies on Ideology– Ideologies in Translation Studies, Manchester: St Jerome, 181–201.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. UNHCR
    UNHCR 2010 Improving Asylum Procedures: comparative analysis and recommendations for law and practice. Available athttps://www.unhcr.org/4c7b71039.pdf
  55. Valero-Garcés, Carmen
    2006Formas de Mediación Intercultural, Traducción e Interpretación en los Servicios Públicos. Conceptos, datos, situaciones y práctica. Granada: Comares.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Wadensjö, Cecilia
    2001 Interpreting in crisis-The interpreter’s position in therapeutic encounters. InIan Mason (Ed.). Triadic Exchanges: Studies in Dialogue Interpreting. Manchester: St. Jerome, 71–85.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. 1992 Interpreting as interaction: On dialogue-interpreting in immigration hearings and medical encounters. Ph. D. Dissertation, Linköpings universitet. Published by Routledge in 2014 Interpreting as interaction.

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error