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Volume 2, Issue 4, 2006

This issue looks at forensic translation and political, cultural and legal alignments in translation and interpreting.


Political and Cultural Alignments in Translation
Mona Baker, University of Manchester

Until relatively recently, translation and interpreting studies tended to shy away from engaging with contemporary political and moral issues that necessarily draw attention to the ethical dilemmas and responsibilities of both practitioners and researchers in the field. Holding on to a naïve model of communication in which the translator – and especially the interpreter – is portrayed as a neutral, impartial vehicle through which language and other semiotic signs pass unchanged (and ‘untainted’ by the mediator’s own narratives of the world), scholars invested in ‘sanitised’ theoretical models and case studies, generally ironing out the very messy and often traumatic reality of mediation in translation, and especially in interpreting.

The Right to an Interpreter and the Right Interpreter
Deborah Cao, Griffith University

Due to the increased movement of people across national boundaries, more and more people who come before the court do not speak the language of the court, be it in the US, Australia or European countries. This paper outlines the legal regimes and laws governing the use of interpreters/translators in legal proceedings. It sets out the legal platform in international law and briefly surveys the situations in Europe, Australia, USA, Canada, Hong Kong and China, highlighting the relevant laws in this area. The paper also raises a number of issues for further consideration. It discusses whether the right to an interpreter should include translator and the competence of the court interpreter/translator and its implications.

Is This Really Translation? The Case of Arabic Literature in French
Said Faiq, American University of Sharjah

Drawing on the concept of pseudo-translation, this article presents a reading of Tahar Ben Jelloun's La Nuit sacrée and its Arabic translation. The main argument is that, despite its success, particularly in France, La Nuit sacrée remains essentially a subverted representation of Arab-Islamic realities and as such it represents a case of invented sources. Likewise, its Arabic translation employs calculated discursive choices that make it alien in Arabic. Further, this translation does not seem to serve any translational mission as an instance of intercultural communication. As such and like its presumed source, the Arabic translation can only be seen as a good case of pseudo-translation and not translation.

Attributing Terror: Evidence on Authorship — A Forensic Translation Analysis of Culturally Divergent Clandestine Coded Messages
Ali Darwish, Central Queensland University

This paper examines the question of authorship attribution of translation-mediated texts and more specifically the messages purported to be those of Osama Bin Laden. Using a three-tier translation analysis model, the paper explores features of the original message and several translations to conclude that while Bin Laden may have been established as the communicator of these messages, he may not have been the sole author of the messages. This is a bold claim that is supported by a forensic translation analysis that proves beyond reasonable doubt that external linguistic and cultural influences have contributed to authorship.

Questioning in Common Law Criminal Courts
John Gibbons and Ester S. M. Leung
University of New South Wales and Hong Kong Baptist University

In their most basic forms, questions occur when the questioner seeks a piece of information that the questioner does not have, and the answerer does have, that is, questions are a request for information. This definition implies two types of relationship between the questioner and respondent: a social relationship in which the questioner may make requests, and an information relationship involving shared and unshared knowledge. This most basic use of questions, for instance in everyday speech, generally assumes first a social relationship that permits the request but does not demand a reply, and second that the respondent has access to a piece of information that the questioner does not have.

Country Report
Legal Interpreting in the Solomon Islands
Connie Bisili and Leong Ko, Queensland University

Unlike other countries where legal interpreting usually develops from a broad basis in community interpreting, in the Solomon Islands legal interpreting was introduced and developed in its own right without almost any other points of reference. This country report examines a number of issues the interpreters in the Solomon Islands have come across in their work — issues affecting their role as interpreters.


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