Doing Justice to Court Interpreting
  • ISSN 1384-6647
  • E-ISSN: 1569-982X
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This paper gives an overview of the interpreting arrangements at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal (1946–1948), focusing on some sociopolitical aspects of the interpreting phenomena, and discusses the behavior of the interpreters and monitors during the testimony of Hideki Tojo, Japan’s wartime Prime Minister. It provides a contextualized examination of court interpreting rather than a microlinguistic analysis of interpreted texts. The study demonstrates how political and social aspects of the trial and wartime world affairs affected the interpreting arrangements, especially the hierarchical set-up in which three ethnically and socially different groups of “linguists” (language specialists) performed three different functions in the interpreting process. An examination of the linguists’ behavior during Tojo’s testimony points to a link between their relative positions in the power constellation of the trial and their choices, strategies and behavior in interpreting and monitoring. These findings reinforce the view that interpreting is a social practice conditioned by the social, political and cultural contexts of the setting in which interpreters operate.


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