Professionalism and ethics in community interpreting
The impact of individualist versus collective group identity
This paper focuses on the relationship between professionalism and cultural constructions of selfhood, in particular the differences between group-based and individual-based identity-building processes. The underlying assumption is that the interpreter’s cultural parameters affect his/her view of professional role and professionalism. This assumption raises the question of whether or not s/he is also guided (consciously or unconsciously) by the host country’s understanding of ethics and professionalism and whether these two potentially opposing values tend to converge over time. The paper argues that because community interpreting as a profession is still very heterogenous, the interpreter’s role is often defined by how the institution uses him/her and what its needs are. Consequently, establishing a universal or near-universal code of professional ethics becomes highly problematic; it also impacts on crucial issues such as impartiality. The paper argues that the complex nature of professionalism and of cross-cultural differences in attitude towards professional role and social identity will have to be addressed by the professional community to improve quality and working conditions for clients, users and interpreters.
Keywords: community interpreting, professionalism, ethics, individualist, collectivist
Published online: 01 June 2007
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