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6. SOCIOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVES 131 SOCIOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVES Interpreting has been used to facilitate communication across languages and cultures throughout the history of humanity. Indeed, the history of interpreting is much longer than that of translation, since it must have taken place before the invention of writing systems. Nevertheless, it did not become either widespread or institutionalizedininternationalsettingsuntilthemiddleof the20th century,when the profession of conference interpreting started to be developed and the need for training of interpreters grew in response to the unprecedented increase in international communication and interaction. Interpreting has further proliferated in recent decades as governments have started addressing the growing need for language assistance for immigrants, refugees and migrant workers in hospitals, courts and other settings. Academic inquiries into interpreting have developed in the wake of these developments of the practice. Initially, and understandably, researchers focused mainly on conference CHAPTER 6 132 INTERPRETING THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL interpreting, especially on issues of cognitive processing, drawing on such disciplines as psycholinguistics, cognitive psychology and neurolinguistics. However, over the past twenty years or so, the scope of interpreting studies has expanded rapidly to encompass more diverse interpreting settings and a wider range of theoretical approaches.In addition to studies that deal with professional issues, there are a number of studies, often influenced by sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and pragmatics, that focus on the interactional aspectsof interpretingandtheroleof interpretersascommunication mediators. There is also a growing interest in the sociocultural aspects of interpreting.For example,Michael Cronin (2002,46) has called for a“cultural turn” in interpreting studies so that researchers pay more attention to“questions of power, and issues such as class, gender, race in interpreting situations.” Franz Pöchhacker (2006) describes this evolution as a matter of interpreting studies “going social” and embracing more diverse forms of interpreting and broader contextualization. This chapter attempts to apply this social approach to the findings from previous chapters in order to achieve a fuller and deeper understanding of the interpreting phenomena at the Tokyo Trial. Three sets of notions are deployed here:“trust, power and control” within the three-tier interpreting arrangements, as evidenced in the behaviour of some of the linguists; “autonomous” and “heteronomous” interpreters (Cronin 2002, 2006) to discuss the complex standing of the Nisei linguists; and the “negotiated norms” in the interpreting procedures developed during the initial stages of the proceedings. Trust, Power and Control When different parties represent different interests in an event mediated by interpreting, the party with the authority to select the interpreters will most likely choose interpreters who share the same interests and/or affiliations as that party or interpreters who are understood to be "neutral", and avoid using interpreters who seem 6. SOCIOPOLITICAL PERSPECTIVES 133 to have a conflict of interest due to suspicions that they may act "in bad faith" or to advance their own agenda. Such suspicions arise from the "power" the interpreters are perceived to possess. In discussing the role of interpreters, sociologist R. Bruce Anderson (1976, 218–21) presents a prototypical model of a bilingual interpreter working between two monolingual parties, then argues that “the interpreter’s position as the person in the middle has the advantage of power inherent in all positions that control scarce resources,” since the interpreter can monopolize the means of communication. However, Anderson’s sociological model of interpreting perhaps oversimplifies the issues. In some cases, for example, an interpreter may be employed even when one or both of the parties can understand both languages in use, for various reasons, political, tactical or otherwise. A party may want to exercise its right to speak its own language instead of resorting to a lingua franca from the political standpoint of language equality. It may want to take advantage of consecutive interpreting so that it can gain extra time to think about its responses. It may seek to use the interpreter as a“cushion” when delivering a message that is unpleasant to the other party, or as a“scapegoat”to be blamed in the event of miscommunication. This “irregular” model, in which an interpreter is used even when communication could have been achieved without him or her, can be seen, as Gideon Toury (2007, 31–34) points out, in the account in Genesis 41–43 of Joseph’s meeting with his brothers, which is conducted via an interpreter, with Joseph speaking Egyptian and pretending he does not understand Hebrew. Mona Baker (1997) discusses the psychological and cultural constraints on those who interpret for political leaders with...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780776619125
Related ISBN
9780776607290
MARC Record
OCLC
695537968
Pages
192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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