The use of reported speech and the perceived neutrality of court interpreters

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21 Citations (Scopus)


A mock trial, with two-way consecutive interpreting between Cantonese and English, was used to test perceptions of a court interpreter's neutrality when interpreting into Cantonese in reported rather than direct speech. Monolingual Cantonese speakers played the part of witnesses using the interpreter. Three groups were created: A control group (16 participants), receiving interpretation of all English utterances into Cantonese in direct speech; and two experimental groups (17 participants each). The experimental groups received interpretation with occasional switches to reported speech. These were introduced by third person pronouns (e.g., "he said") for one group (the 'pronoun group'), and by professional titles (e.g., "the judge said") for the other group (the 'title group'). Participants afterwards completed a questionnaire, assessing neutrality and alignment on a 5-point Likert scale. The title group not only perceived the interpreter to be aligned with the English speakers, but also gave a significantly different assessment of neutrality from the control group. The pronoun group perceived the interpreter to be aligned with them, but did not differ significantly from the control group in their perception of neutrality. Use of pronouns or professional titles in the reporting clauses thus affected the interpreter's perceived neutrality differently.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-208
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Court interpreting
  • Perceived neutrality
  • Reported speech
  • Role-play
  • Speech attribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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