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a c c u r a c y
While it is difficult at the textual-discursive level to separate accuracy and completeness, the former is most easily applied with reference to smaller elements of discourse, as in lexical and terminological accuracy. Whereas questions of institutional terminology should hardly prove intractable, interpreters can never have ready-made solutions for all and any lexical contingencies arising within the interaction. But this confronts us head-on with the fraught translation-theoretical issue of fidelity (or meaning equivalence, sense consistency, etc.) that will not be expatiated on in this particular context. Rather, we will present an example of a much less subtle or debatable lexical deviation, indicating the potential for semantic distortions of the asylum seeker’s statements that may end up in the written record.
In the sequence preceding the excerpt below, ADJ has just asked APP about his father’s political activity and now tries to find out more about APP’s own involvement.
example 7: T6H2 (67:35–68:05)
Example 7 contains a number of phenomena worth noting, such as one of the rare instances of an indirectly addressed question by ADJ (1); ADJ’s direct formulation of the German rendition for the record, assuming the role of interpreter; and REC’s request for repetition, addressed to INT rather than ADJ. We will, however, limit our comments to the lexical deviation in turn 6, where INT renders APP’s statement about someone’s right to “support” (a person) (5) as the right to “vote for” (a party). It is this rendering that ends up in the record, having even been repeated by INT upon REC’s request. Depending on APP’s age and the other facts of the case, the shift from “supporting” to “voting” might well engender contradictions that could undermine APP’s credibility.
c o m p l e t e n e s s
As in the case of semantic inaccuracy, an interpreter’s incomplete rendering can be detrimental to the asylum seeker’s case. The following example illustrates this for an abridged translation of ADJ’s questioning.
example 8: T5H1 (57:32–58:21)
Critically, in this credibility-testing stage of the hearing, ADJ confronts APP with an alleged contradiction and asks him explicitly to try and resolve it (“How do you explain this contradiction to me?”). While INT renders the references that allegedly contradict APP’s most recent statement, she does not translate the concluding prompt for APP to explain the discrepancy. APP is merely reminded that he did not say previously what he has said now, and is thus not alerted to the threat to his credibility, nor to the need to counter it with an explanation. Similar kinds of omissions occur elsewhere in the corpus and deserve to be examined further for their impact on the course and outcome of the proceedings.