Does English Work as the Universal Language? – Judging From the Current Trend of World Englishes


Japan has faced numbers of foreign national suspects, defendants and/or witnesses (criminals and civil cases) along with the globalization. Not only major-spoken language speakers such as English or Spanish but also minor-spoken language speaking suspects/defendants have increased in Japan. When the suspects, defendants and/or witnesses are those language speakers, it is quite difficult or impossible to find appropriate legal interpreters. On those cases, it often happens that the legal institutes allocate English speaking interpreters for them, since their second or third languages may be English. Legal participants tend to think English is “just” only one English and don’t pay any attention to the variation or difference of discourses or utterance, even though speakers (suspects, defendants and/or witnesses) come from many different countries. English, however, is not the same in the world, and we understand that there are “World Englishes” and they are different respectively. English speaking interpreters must convey and translate message from the original “English”, but the utterance or discourse are different depending on speakers, their native languages and/or educational background. Despite those circumstances, no attention or little attention has been paid to languages or interpreters from legal participants, i.e. judges, prosecutors or attorneys, as they think English is “just” only one English and don’t think there are differences. This paper explains the current situation at legal institutions and focuses on tough issues that legal interpreters must face as well as possible solutions.

Author Information
Masako Mouri, Toyohashi University of Technoogy, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2019
Stream: Education

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon