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Narrative Construction in Interpreted Police Interviews

Narrative Construction in Interpreted Police Interviews

(p.179) Chapter Nine Narrative Construction in Interpreted Police Interviews
The Discourse of Police Interviews
Ikuko Nakane
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the impact of interpreter mediation on the construction of narratives in police interviews. Constructing versions of events is an important aspect of police interviewing as a legal process. Through an analysis of interpreter-mediated interviews of Japanese-speaking suspects in Australia, two aspects of tri-partite interaction relevant for narrative construction are discussed: turn-taking and questioning and resistance strategies. The analysis of turn-taking suggests that the timing of interpreters’ rendition of primary speakers’ turns at times affected coherence and completeness of the narratives. The chapter also demonstrates how the primary speakers’ diversion from the ‘normative’ format of turn-taking poses challenges for interpreters. Following this, distortion of questioning strategies through interpreter-mediated interaction are discussed in terms of how it could affect the narrative construction effort by police interviewers and suspects. The chapter then illustrates how the pragmatic force of suspects’ resistance strategies may not always be rendered, resulting in weakening of suspects’ versions of events. It concludes by highlighting the importance of recognizing those challenges posed by the tri-partite structure of interaction and a layer of mediation in gathering evidence.

Keywords:   interpreting, narrative, turn-taking, questioning, resistance

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