Professional interpreting as an essential guarantee for equal and effective access to human rights in the European Union

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Terpetschnig, Irene
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The use of untrained interpreters is a common phenomenon in different countries in the European Union. Awareness on the serious consequences of resulting dysfunctional communication is generally low. Problems affect in particular the most vulnerable individuals, who require the assistance of an interpreter to have access to rights across linguistic and cultural barriers. Thus, it may happen that an application of asylum is rejected because the story of the asylum seeker is judged not credible, while in fact inconsistencies in the story are due to distortions in the interpretation. A patient may receive wrong treatment, because a doctor had to base his or her diagnosis on an interpretation by a child. These problems relate to a lack of clear legislation, a lack of mechanisms, of professional interpreters, specialised training, accreditation mechanisms, and awareness on the importance of professional interpreting. The persistence of these problems is related to the traditional perception of interpreting as a mere replacement of words. The present thesis shows that interpreters need to co-ordinate talk, enable intercultural communication, and balance uneven power relations to enable successful communication between individuals who require access to a certain right, and persons able to provide that access.
Second semester University: University of Ljubljana.
human rights, European Union, translating and interpreting