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Abstract

Abstract

This article examines how the voices of trial participants are mediated by court interpreters. The research focuses on closing statements articulated by defendants in Chinese criminal trials, the last chance for their voices to be heard prior to sentencing. Drawing upon the concept of voice and theories of speech acts and pragmatic equivalence, and based on the discourse analysis of seven authentic trial recordings, this study reveals how the discursive performance of the defendant is constructed, altered, and sometimes undermined through interpreting. The findings reveal that speech acts performed by the defendant are often not maintained in the interpreted renditions and that the concept of closing statements is difficult to convey. It is argued that when interpreters fail to convey the pragmatic force of defendants’ utterances, the voice of the defendants is not fully heard, which places them at a disadvantage and impacts upon their right to equality and justice. The article also reveals system-bound constraints on the effective provision of language assistance and the safeguarding of defendants’ legal rights.

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/content/journals/10.1075/target.21066.du
2021-05-25
2021-06-16
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: closing statements; voice; court interpreting; pragmatic equivalence; speech acts
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