Rights to be heard and the rights to be interpreted

Ester S M LEUNG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The principle that during police interviews people who do not speak English should have access to interpreters has long been established in legal practice in the UK. However, very little is known about the extent to which or how this principle is actually applied. The aim of this study was to provide a close look at current legal interpreting practices in diff erent types of legal encounter in the UK. What was actually going on in these events; what were the specifi c problems associated with interpreting in legal settings; and what were the problems associated with interpreting between Cantonese and English? What can the close study of interpreters’ as they interpret tell us about the process of ‘interpretation’ in legal settings? An ethnographic approach was adopted to collect and analyze the data. I observed and audio-recorded four interpreting events which involved Chinese interpreters. The main fi nding emerging from this study is that legal interpreting services in the UK is greatly hampered by the ways that the services are organized. Interpreters’ performance are also greatly infl uenced by the practices of the legal institutions as well as the cultural and linguistic diff erences between Chinese and English.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-301
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Rights to be heard and the rights to be interpreted'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this