Stockholm university logo, link to start page

Higher seminar TÖI: Deaf interpreters rendering intralingual interpretation within the court of law


Date: Friday 22 April 2022

Time: 13.00 – 14.30

Location: Room C307, building C, floor 3, Södra huset

With Christopher Tester, Gallaudet University’s department of interpretation and translation (Washington D.C., USA). An additional Higher seminar in Translation studies in a collaboration between the Institute for Interpreting and Translation Studies (TÖI) and Department of Linguistics at Stockholm University. The seminar will be interpreted from international signs to spoken Swedish.



Swedish sign language: DOMSTOL (Court of Law), from Swedish Sign Language Dictionary.
Swedish sign language: DOMSTOL (Court of Law), from Swedish Sign Language Dictionary. (The person in the picture is not Christopher Tester.)

Courtroom interpreting is an institutionally situated activity and involves multiple stakeholders, including the interpreter (Angelelli, 2004; Mikkelson, 2008). This study explores Deaf interpreters’ perception of their role and function within the court of law. Deaf interpreters are sign language interpreters who are also Deaf and have been a part of the rise in professionalisation within the US and worldwide. As courtroom interpreters, Deaf interpreters commonly co-work with nondeaf interpreters, rendering the process intralingual.

This (auto)ethnographic study, which situates the Deaf interpreters within the courts, and involves interviews with and observations of Deaf and nondeaf interpreters, draws from intralingual translation theory, interpreting studies, courtroom interpreting studies, and Deaf interpreter studies to identify how Deaf interpreters perform their role function. Through the lens of Goffman’s (1981) participation framework and translanguaging theory (De Meulder et al., 2019; García & Wei, 2014), the findings reveal how the employment status of Deaf courtroom interpreters shaped their shared participation framework with the courts which in turn influenced the language use.

This study developed an intralingual interpreting taxonomy built upon Zethsen’s (2009) intralingual translation micro strategies to observe and analyse Deaf interpreter’s intralingual renditions. Through the intralingual interpreting taxonomy and participation framework, we see how Deaf interpreters perceive themselves as the primary animator of the interpreting team and render discursive practices that align with Deaf individual’s knowledge (or lack thereof) and experience within the courtroom. This thesis contributes to a greater understanding of courtroom interpreting and acknowledges that intralingual interpreting is an expansive interpreting practice and is multimodal.

About the seminar in Swedish: Högre sem. TÖI. Christopher Tester: Döva tolkar inom rättsväsendet och intralingual tolkning



Christopher Tester, PhD, CDI, SC:L, is Deaf and is an assistant professor at Gallaudet University’s department of interpretation and translation (Washington D.C., USA). He continues to work as an interpreter and educator in private practice. His recent research focuses on Deaf interpreters’ work within the court of law, intralingual interpreting and expanding on sign language conference interpreting.

Christopher is an AIIC member and is a WFD-WASLI Accredited International Sign interpreter. He is fluent in American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and International Sign.

Chris received his PhD and European Masters in Sign Language Interpreting (EUMASLI) at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh (Scotland) and received his his Professional Certificate from CUNY’s ASL/English Interpreter Education Program. Additionally, he received his bachelor’s degree at the College of the Holy Cros (Worcester, MA, USA). He resides in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Tester