4.1 Elsrud

| August 10, 2020

Torun Elsrud. (2014). Othering the “other” in court: Threats to self-presentation during interpreter assisted hearings. International Journal of Law, Language & Discourse 4(1), 26-67.

Abstract: This paper is based on an ethnographic research project studying interaction processes and rituals; the interplay between speech and social interaction during interpreted hearings in Swedish District Court cases on domestic violence, where opponents have Middle Eastern, Muslim backgrounds. It is argued that a combination of linguistic changes performed by an interpreter –
subtractions, additions and content alterations – during interpreted hearings can cause situations of emotional drainage and contagion, leading to further ”othering” of parties that already are culturally and linguistically ”othered”, both inside and outside the courtroom context. Ultimately, their loss of control over self-presentation is a matter of unequal power distribution and a potential threat to the principle of legal security. Thus, the view of the interpreter as merely a contextbound supportive drummer at the back of the orchestra is challenged and related to social order and stratification processes on an abstract societal level.

Keywords: court interpreting, interaction rituals, emotional energy, othering, self-presentation


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Category: Volume 4