The collaborative and selective nature of interpreting in police interviews with stand-by interpreting

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This study explores interaction in two authentic interpreter-mediated police interviews with suspects. The analysis focuses on the interpreting regime used: stand-by interpreting. The interactional regime in the interviews analysed featured exolingual communication in English between a Spanish-speaking suspect with emerging competencies in English and English-speaking interviewers, with intermittent interpreter participation. Drawing on Conversation Analysis and interactional sociolinguistics, this study analyses how the interpreting regime was negotiated, how it was constructed over the course of the interviews, and the observable function of interpreting episodes. The analysis revealed a markedly collaborative nature of stand-by interpreting, differences in the distribution of interactional power over interpreting episodes among the three participants depending on their activity role and the interview phase, and the multimodal nature of turn-management. Interpreting was used selectively as a resource to either repair or prevent miscommunication, aligning with the way the interpreting regime was set up. Rather than advocating for or against the stand-by mode of interpreting, this paper describes its features in the police interview and highlights both its potential and its risks for communication in interpreter-mediated police interview as a discourse genre.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalInterpreting: International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2020


  • stand-by interpreting
  • police interview
  • negotiation
  • multimodality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Communication

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