Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Julia Lambertini

Julia Lambertini Andreotti has been working as an interpreter and translator in California for over 20 years. She is certified as a court interpreter by the State of California and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. She is also an ATA-certified English>Spanish translator, and a past grader for ATA's English>Spanish certification exam. Lambertini has an MA in Linguistics from California State University, Northridge, and an MA in Translation and Intercultural Studies from Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain. She has also been teaching interpreting and translation in California for five years, both at  universities and privately.

Comprehension of Legal Discourse in Interpreter-mediated Judicial Proceedings

Supervisor: Franz Pöchhacker

Research Summary

Judicial interpreters in California are required to follow a strict code of ethics that sets the standards for interpreter performance, among which is the requirement to conserve the register of the source text in the target text. This intercultural communicative event involves a judicial officer who uses a high formal register of legal language; a Spanish speaker from a different culture, different education level, and different exposure to (a different) legal system; and an interpreter who is required to be as invisible as humanly possible. This empirical research involves a three-part study aimed to (1) find out and compare the level of comprehension of legal language by English speakers and Spanish speakers, and to experiment with register simplification to assess any effects on comprehension levels; (2) collect data on interpreters' views and awareness of register, register variation, and intervention; and (3) collect data on attorneys' views on interpreters' interventions.

In keeping with the sociocultural turn that has made itself felt in Interpreting Studies, this research seeks to bring the social, cultural, and educational constraints of the target-language receiver into the equation of modern-day judicial interpreting in California, which is still guided by principles of formal equivalence and source orientedness. This research aims to find and define a more realistic role for the court interpreter that will be compatible with intercultural encounters of speakers in such opposite realities, goals, and speech styles. In order to account for these target constraints, a target-oriented approach was applied to investigate this communicative event borrowing concepts from skopos theory and Toury's notion of norms, two conceptual frameworks that challenged the equivalence paradigm. Functionalist translation theory (skopos theory) seems an appropriate theoretical framework to examine this complex intercultural communication scenario because it allows giving priority precisely to the sociocultural and situational constraints of the target-culture receiver. Since many of these constraints are intimately related to institutional and professional norms, this intercultural communicative event will also be examined by investigating the norms at play and interpreters' attitudes toward these norms. The aim of this research is collect data that will help gain a better understanding of the interpreter's role and the communicative effectiveness of interpreter-mediated judicial proceedings.

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Minor dissertation

Research Design

Conferences and Presentations

2007. CETRA. Presentation: Comprehension of Legal Discourse in Interpreted Proceedings. Leuven, Belgium.

2007. ATA, 48th Annual Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. San Francisco, USA.

2008. ATA Spanish Division Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. Philadelphia, USA.

2008. ATA, 49th Annual Conference. Presentation: Error consistency across diverse translation and interpreting students. Orlando, USA.

2008. The Future of Research on Translation and Interpreting. URV, Tarragona, Spain.

2009. ATISA. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. San Diego, CA, USA.

2009. Monterrey Forum 2009: Principles and Practices of Assessment in the Training of Translators and Interpreters. Monterrey, CA, USA.

2009. NAJIT, 30th Annual Conference. Scottsdale, AZ, USA.

2009. La Casa del Traductor. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. Presentation: Error consistency across diverse translation and interpreting students. Caracas, Venezuela.

2009. ATA, 50th Annual Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. Presentation: Manos a la obra: Tricks and Tips to Solve Common Translation Problems. New York, USA.

2010. ATA Spanish Division Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. San Diego, USA.

2010. ATA 51st Annual Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. Denver, USA.

2013. ATA 54th Annual Conference. Presentation: Workshop in preparation for the ATA English>Spanish certification exam. San Antonio, USA.