A Full Course in Legal Interpreting is a useful resource for any practising legal interpreter or student of interpreting in Australia. It contains theoretical and practical components and covers a wide range of topics relating to all aspects of legal interpreting, including:
- Notes on Languages
- Origins, linguistic changes and language families); main characteristics of English (expansion of the English vocabulary, loanwords, compounding, affixation, conversion, shortening, blending, denotative and connotative meanings, monosemy and polysemy, changed meanings, accents and dialects, register, figures of speech
- General Notes on Interpreting
- Historical background, effective communication, similarities and differences between interpreting and translation in terms of timing, accuracy, paralanguage, physical and sensory abilities, interpersonal skills, level of immediate preparation; modes of interpreting, process of interpreting, memory and note taking
- The Australian Legal System
- The Constitution and its main features, separation of powers, laws and how they are made and amended, main sources of law, the adversarial system of trial, the Australian court system, the process of criminal justice (investigation, arrest, post-arrest, at court), the process of civil action, court dynamics
- The Language of the Law and Legal Terminology
- Legal language as a distinctive genre and as a special technical language, the myth and reality of legal terms, achieving precision in legal terms, nature and origin of legal terms)
- Other Notes on Legal Interpreting
- Quality of interpreting, translating evidentiary audio recordings, the interpreter as an expert opinion witness, the question of ethics, intercultural competence, professional development, NAATI’s new certification system
The book also contains a glossary of over 250 terms, with detailed definitions and explanations, as well as seven practice dialogues that can be used individually, in pairs or in a classroom.
For Arabic interpreters and students, the book contains sections on the Arabic language, legal systems in the Arab world, Arabic equivalents of the English terms listed, as well as translations into and from Arabic of all segments of the legal situation dialogues provided.
Excerpts from the Book
‘An important feature of language is its ability to adapt to technical, social, cultural and other changes. This is so because language is not something made of dead bricks and wood like a house. A house can decay and a tree can die, but a language can do neither, at least not totally: it can only change. Some languages react to their environment more easily than others. English, for instance, is one language that keeps adjusting itself to reflect social and other changes. Arabic, on the other hand, changes at a slower rate. We still call this change.’ Page 42
‘Crimes can vary in terms of seriousness, spread, impact and penalty. Petty crime is crime known in some other countries as misdemeanour. It includes petty theft (such as shoplifting), prostitution, public intoxication, common assault, and other similar crimes. Serious crime, organised crime and major crime are names given to crimes that potentially have more impact on society and are usually penalised by longer prison sentences. These crimes are called indictable offences, while in some other countries they are called felonies. The difference between summary offences and indictable offences is that the former are dealt with summarily in a lower court, while the latter are determined in trial by jury in a higher court (District/County Court or Supreme Court). Many summary offences may need little or no pre-arrest investigation.’ Page 152
‘It can be argued that any technical language has its seeds in jargon. In fact, it is the preference-among-meaning pursuit that also leads to technicality, and consequently to refraining from using terms with the same field interchangeably. Accordingly, washer and nut are not the same and cannot be physically or linguistically used interchangeably, despite the physical similarity they may have. Likewise, neither accused can be used instead of defendant in a civil claim, nor magistrate can be used instead of judge in a higher court. This is so because, firstly, similar is not identical, and, secondly, because using these words interchangeably in these situations would be misleading, confusing and contrary to the main function of language, namely proper labelling of people, things and concepts.’ Page 183
A Full Course in Legal Interpreting | ISBN 978-1-64921-158-3 | 375 pages
Steve Karakira is a career translator and interpreter with experience stretching over 45 years in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Australia, and spanning the wide spectrum of interpreting, from community (including legal) interpreting to conference interpreting, as well as teaching, mentoring and assessing students of interpreting. He has an MA (Hons) (1997). His thesis is entitled ‘Lexis versus Text -The case for translating English legal texts into Arabic’. He is also the author of ‘A practical course in health and medical interpreting’ (2009).