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Communicating in multilingual police scenarios: mediated, non-mediated and hybrid forms of interaction

Interpreting will be explored in this presentation as one among a range of multilingual strategies used to communicate in police settings. As it is the case in other migration encounters (Maryns, Angermeyer and Van Herreweghe, 2021), different strategies are used by participants when a language barrier exists in the various encounters that are part of policing operations (Gamal, 2014; Mulayim and Lai, 2015). This presentation draws on the outcomes of two studies conducted in Scotland. Firstly, the range of strategies used by community and response officers in Scotland in different encounters requiring linguistic assistance will be discussed, as well as their advantages, their risks, and the factors that guide the choice of one or another strategy. As part of the scenarios and situations documented, interaction with speakers who have some English proficiency and communicate in ‘broken English’ will be explored. Approaches to liaising with users who have multilingual competencies include non-mediated communication in English and hybrid interpreting forms such as stand-by interpreting. Data from a second study on stand-by interpreting in authentic police interviews with suspects will be presented, in particular the contextual and interactional features of this hybrid mode of interpreting, the challenges of the mode, and the need for further research on the role of interpreting in encounters with multilingual participants. 


Gamal, M. Y. (2014). Police interpreting: A view from the Australian context. International Journal of Society, Culture & Language, 2, 77-88.  

Maryns, K., Angermeyer, P. S., & Van Herreweghe, M. (2021). Introduction : flexible multilingual strategies in asylum and migration encounters. TRANSLATOR.  

Mulayim, S., Lai, M., Norma, C. (2015). Police Investigative Interviews and Interpreting. Boca Raton: CRC Press 

Eloísa Monteoliva-García is Assistant Professor in Spanish (Translation & Interpreting) and Director of Post-graduate Programmes in Translation & Interpreting at the Languages & Intercultural Studies Department at Heriot-Watt University and a member of CTISS, the Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland. She obtained her PhD on police interpreting in 2017 at Heriot-Watt University. Eloísa worked as an Assistant Professor of Spanish at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City, between 2017 and 2019, and her research explores interpreter-mediated communication in police and legal settings, interpreter-mediated discourse and translator and interpreter education. She has collaborated in several research projects on interpreting in legal settings, including the CO-Minor-IN/QUEST project and the UK adaptation of the UNHCR Training Handbook on Asylum Interpreting, she is the author of a scholarly review of publications on legal and judiciary interpreting sponsored by SSTI, the Society for the Study of Translation and Interpretation of NAJIT, and, in addition to training interpreters, she delivers regular training to police forces on how to work with interpreters. Eloísa was granted the CIUTI Award 2020 for the most outstanding PhD thesis completed at a CIUTI institution which has contributed significantly to the development of research in the discipline in the 2017-2020 period and the Distinguished Teaching Award 2019 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a senior college of the City University of New York. 


Meeting-ID: 430 480 9828

Access Code: 17MarMonte


This presentation is part of the guest lecture series Brücken bauen statt Barrieren II. Sprach- und Kulturmittlung im sozialen, medizinischen und behördlichen Bereich (Building Bridges Instead of Barriers II. Language and Cultural Mediation in the Social, Medical and Official Spheres). The lecture series focuses on the professional, human and structural challenges of community interpreting within and outside the established market as well as the possibilities of their academic exploration. Further details on the lecture series and an overview of past lectures can be found here (info in German).

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