1 Translation and Interpreting, Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Language and Business Communication, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Department of Business Communication, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Since Shlesinger (1989) discussed the applicability of translational norms to the field of interpreting, a number of scholars have advocated the use of this concept as a frame of reference in interpreting research (e.g. Harris 1990, Schjoldager 1994, 1995, Jansen 1995, Gile 1999, Garzone 2002). Due to the flexibility of the concept of norms, it lends itself excellently to inquiries into interpreting, i.e. to an object of study which may be said to be characterized by an even higher degree of variability than translation. The present study forms part of a comprehensive research project on court interpreting in Denmark, which involves three researchers affiliated to the same institution (Aarhus School of Business), and includes French, German and Arabic. Apart from recordings of (parts of) authentic courtroom proceedings, the empirical data include questionnaires filled in by the interpreters and most - and, in some cases, all - professional users involved (judges, lawyers, prosecutors). As far as the non-Danish speaking users are concerned, it has, with one notable exception, unfortunately not been possible to obtain data from this group via questionnaires. As this type of data, however, is important for the study, we intend to conduct interviews instead. The purpose of the study is to investigate deviations from translational norms in court interpreting. More specifically, we aim to identify and describe instances of deviant behaviour on the part of the interpreters, discuss signs of possible deviant behaviour, explore why the deviations in question occur, find out what happens if deviations are perceived as such by the other participants involved in the interpreted event. We will reconstruct the norms in question by examining interpreters' and (mainly) professional users' behaviour in the course of the interpreted events and by drawing on responses to the questionnaires and comments provided by these two groups. The explicit instructions issued by the Danish Court Administration (Guidelines for court interpreting) will serve as point of departure for the investigation of deviations from the prevailing norms. Depending on the character of the deviant behaviour, the potency of the norms in question, extratextual sociocultural factors such as the interpreter's status in society, and many other factors, a broad range of sanctions is conceivable. However, we do not expect to find an obvious connection between deviations and sanctions in every case. By way of example: Several judges, who had given their consent to recordings of authentic data in connection with the research project, reported that they had experienced problems with insufficient language proficiency on the part of untrained interpreters speaking minority languages in Denmark, such as Arabic (comments in the questionnaires show, that this is a shared concern among the professional users). However, dissatisfaction with these interpreters does not necessarily lead to actual negative sanctions because there is a shortage of trained interpreters speaking these languages. This example does not immediately indicate that Translation Studies might be able to contribute to, for example, an improvement of the training situation for the group of court interpreters mentioned above. However, in our opinion, there is reason to believe that TS can make a difference in the long run. We shall conclude this paper by discussing what makes us think so.