Chapter published in:Common Law in an Uncommon Courtroom: Judicial interpreting in Hong Kong
Eva N.S. Ng
[Benjamins Translation Library 144] 2018
► pp. 147–169
Who is speaking?
Court interpreters’ use of first-person versus third-person interpreting
The previous chapter illustrated how the problem of jury comprehension is aggravated and particularly worrying in the Hong Kong courtroom, where most jurors do not have a native command of the English language. It explored how the participation status of these NNES jurors could be prejudiced when they do not have full access to the trial in its entirety because of the use of chuchotage in court, thus potentially compromising the delivery of justice. Besides, the differential social relationship between the judge and jurors renders many jurors too intimidated and unwilling to communicate with the judge and to flag up a comprehension problem (Gibbons 2017: 146).Building on the premise of power asymmetry between legal professionals and lay participants in court, this chapter explores how interpreters represent the voice of judges and counsel versus that of lay participants in the interpreted proceedings in Hong Kong courts. Combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, this chapter focuses on interpreters’ treatment of legal professionals’ first-person reference and its Chinese counterpart used by Chinese witnesses or defendants and it compares the interpreting styles adopted by the court interpreters. This chapter reviews and evaluates relevant literature on the use of first-person (or direct speech) and third-person interpreting (i.e. reported speech) and seeks to add a new dimension to the issue. It explores how the complicated notion of audience in the bilingual Hong Kong courtroom may have a bearing on the interpreter’s strategies in representing the voice of the speaker (see also E. Ng 2011, 2013c).