Our second Brown Bag of Spring Semester will be this coming Monday (3/2). Dr. Shaw will be talking with us about language and power in legal interpreting contexts (see abstract below).
topic: Interpreting Decisions and Power: Legal Discourse or Legal Discord?
presenter: Dr. Risa Shaw
when: Monday, March 3rd, 12 to 1 pm
where: SLCC 3rd floor open area in linguistics department
Interpreting Decisions and Power: Legal Discourse or Legal Discord?
In Canada and the U.S. interpreting legal discourse and working in legal interactions is an area fraught with power imbalances between the agents of the judicial system and the Deaf persons who come in contact with them. This two-part qualitative study (survey and focus groups) included Deaf and non-deaf ASL-English interpreters from Canada and the U.S. We analyzed how interpreters who have worked in legal settings for the past 10-30 years make decisions about their work that may contribute to the power dynamics in this specialized area. Results indicate the effect of the intersections among power and privilege, interpreters’ sense of agency, conceptualization of the task of interpreting, and training. These intersections cut across the power dynamics of systemic power, power in the legal system, and one’s own personal and/or professional power and privilege, or lack thereof. Participants highlight the following: the importance of trust and the relationship among team members, especially between Deaf and non-deaf colleagues, awareness of one’s choices, recognition of the impact of one’s decisions, and willingness to changes one’s practices. Additional themes emerged regarding definitions of qualifications, job requirements, working conditions, preparation strategies and practices, and the need for ongoing specialized training. Finally, the study has implications for interpreter educators and interpreters who work in legal settings. While this study draws on data from legal settings, results are applicable to multiple contexts and settings.