Trialing a corpus-based approach to preparation for courtroom interpreting with student interpreters
Legal interpreting is viewed as one of the most challenging types of interpreting that occurs in a range of settings that present particular challenges for interpreters (Hale, 2007). Of these settings, courtroom interpreting is perhaps the most difficult because of its highly formalised and ritualised legal procedures. In addition, specialised language and terminology is used in the courtroom, with strategic use of language such as leading questions in cross-examination. Failing to accurately interpret legal terminology can have serious consequences for all parties involved (Wang and Grant, 2015). Given the importance of accurately interpreting legal language, interpreters prepare effectively to familiarise themselves with this specialised language. A corpus-based approach may be one method for effective preparation. Corpora can provide examples of legal terminology in context that allows interpreters to identify and comprehend specific legal terminology and everyday words used in a legal sense.
This study aims to explore the effectiveness of a corpus-based approach to interpreting preparation, and interpreters’ perceptions of the experience. Student interpreter participants in the study were first tested on scenarios developed from court transcripts. They were then provided with a range of corpus materials and instructed in their use as a means of facilitating the acquisition of specialist terminology, and re-tested. The quantitative findings of this research suggest that the corpus-based preparation contributes to improvement of terminological accuracy, with positive feedback on the approach obtained by participant surveys.