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Interpreter role and positionality in legal advice meetings

Reynolds, Judith 2019. Interpreter role and positionality in legal advice meetings. Presented at: Critical Link International 9, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan, 15 - 17 June 2019.

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This presentation reports on findings from a linguistic ethnographic study of lawyer-client communication in UK asylum and refugee family reunion legal advice meetings (Reynolds, 2018). It focuses on issues of interpreter role and positionality in legal advice, a site of community interpreting that is rarely examined in the research literature (Hale, 2007). The study was situated in a city-based legal advice NGO providing free advice to clients, and investigated intercultural and multilingual communication in legal advice meetings. During a seven-month period of ethnographic participant observation, a corpus of audio recordings and observational notes was collected from advice meetings between one immigration lawyer and a range of asylum seeker and refugee clients. Audio recordings were subsequently transcribed for close linguistic analysis. The presentation compares and contrasts interpreted interaction in two different legal advice meetings from the data set, examining the interpreter’s positionality in each of these meetings and the situational and contextual factors contributing to this (Wadensjö, 1998). The first meeting features a trained Arabic-English interpreter who employs a direct style of interpreting (Hale, 2007). The second features a volunteer Chinese-English interpreter who employs a more mediated style of interpreting (Hale, 2007). The analysis draws on the concepts of production and reception formats (Wadensjö, 1998) and contextual inference in dialogue interpreting (Mason, 2006), to interrogate the range of different roles occupied by each interpreter at different times in each of these meetings. The empirical data and discussion interrogates the appropriateness of Ahmad’s (2007) typology of the multiple roles of ‘co-client, co-counsel, and expert’ (p. 1004) played by interpreters in the legal advice process. It critically examines the claim that involving an interpreter in legal advice communication 'confounds traditional lawyer and client roles, transforms the very structure of the lawyer-client relationship, and threatens fundamental values of client-centeredness, such as client autonomy and client voice' (Ahmad, 2007, p. 1004).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
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Last Modified: 13 Nov 2019 15:05

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