For defendants and witnesses who do not speak the official language of the court, the provision of interpreting and the quality of court interpreting are equally important. This paper aims to develop a rating scale for the assessment of the competence of court interpreters and court interpreting quality. Based on the literature review, we have developed a rating scale with the three criteria of accuracy, target language quality, and delivery. The ten-point rating scale has four bands, ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘mediocre’, and ‘poor’, for each criterion of quality, and points assigned to each band: 10 points for ‘excellent’, 8 to 9 points for ‘good’, 6 to 7 points for ‘mediocre’, and 5 points and below for ‘poor’.
The audio-recorded interpreting data and Korean court record of the examinations, which were made available for this study, consisted of dialogue interpreting during fourteen courtroom examinations of witnesses and defendants from non-Korean speaking backgrounds. The data of 10 hour and 34 minute long interpreting involved eleven interpreters in seven languages, including English, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Mongol, Thai, and Uzbek. Each language interpreting was assessed by two raters based on the rubric provided by the researchers. While English, Chinese, Russian and Japanese raters had at least MA level training in translation and interpreting and included at least one rater who was familiar with court interpreting, Mongol, Thai, and Uzbek raters were language instructors or fluent bilinguals, lacking professional translator or interpreter training. The results indicate that the raters generally understood the criteria and the band descriptors and came up with similar results. The inter-rater reliability measured by a percent agreement between raters proved to be high. In terms of overall band scores, the rater agreement was 100% in six languages except for English, which was still strong (75%). The findings support the practicality and effectiveness of using rating scales in the assessment of court interpreting in different contexts, including certification examination. Despite the limitations of the current research, the rating scale proved to be a useful tool that can be employed by non-professional interpreter raters. The assessment of eleven interpreters performances revealed that the overall interpreting competence of the eleven interpreters was mediocre.