What’s in a word? Your enemy combatant is my refugee
The role of simultaneous interpreters in negotiating the lexis of Guantánamo in the European Parliament
As a result of the fierce controversy surrounding Guantánamo Bay detention camp, the process of naming, or lexicalising, the group of individuals detained there has become central in legitimising or challenging their detention. This positioning becomes even more complex when conducted in a multilingual setting where such lexical choices are also simultaneously interpreted. In this paper, a case study of a simultaneously interpreted plenary debate from the European Parliament (EP) on the potential resettlement of Guantánamo detainees in European Union (EU) member states is presented, with particular focus on the impact of simultaneous interpreting on the negotiation of contested lexical labels. After conceptualising plenary debate at the EP as multivoiced discourse (Bakhtin 1981), this paper investigates the rhetorical strategies employed in the process of overlexicalising Guantánamo detainees throughout the German and English original and interpreted versions of the debate. Interpreter response to controversial lexical labels is then explored, before instances of interpreter intervention in the form of lexical contraction and self-correction are analysed in relation to the ideological impact of such intervention on the multiple voices present in the debate.
Keywords: Guantánamo, political discourse, Bakhtin, multivoicedness, lexicalisation, overlexicalisation, simultaneous interpreting, European Parliament, lexical contraction
Published online: 27 September 2013
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