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Exploring the possibility of using Plain English in interpreter-mediated criminal trials in Japan: Focus on non-native speakers of English

  • T&I REVIEW
  • Abbr : tnirvw
  • 2020, 10(1), pp.57-79
  • DOI : 10.22962/tnirvw.2020.10.1.003
  • Publisher : Ewha Research Institute for Translation Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Interpretation and Translation Studies
  • Received : February 28, 2020
  • Accepted : May 30, 2020
  • Published : June 30, 2020

Jakub E. Marszalenko 1

1Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Candidate

ABSTRACT

English is one of the most important languages in interpreter-mediated criminal trials in Japan involving defendants, victims or witnesses not sufficiently fluent in Japanese. However, a significant number of subjects requiring Japanese-English interpreting and translation services, come from a variety of cultural, linguistic, or educational backgrounds and do not use English as their first language, and potentially, may not be sufficiently fluent in this language. Despite the fact that this issue can have serious implications for the due process and the subjects’ rights, it has been given little attention to date. Therefore, in this paper I will explore whether using Plain English could be helpful in addressing the issue of insufficient communication between actors in the interpreter-mediated criminal process, in order to consider whether: 1) Plain English can elevate the defendant’s understanding, and 2) if and how the use of Plain English may impact on the accuracy of the legal message of the source text in Japanese.

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