Arabic-Arabic Courtroom Translation in Lebanon

Translation issues usually involve at least two foreign languages. Here is an article that addresses translation in courts from colloquial to Standard/Classical Arabic. In addition to the linguistic arguments, the author also discusses  pre-trial criminal proceedings in Lebanese courts. (see p.191)

Arabic-Arabic Courtroom Translation in Lebanon                                           Victor A. Khachan                                                                                                                    19 Social and Legal  Studies 183 (2010)

Abstract:

In the Arab world, the comprehension gap between Colloquial and Standard Arabic has been recognized as a major force behind illiteracy and its endless negative repercussions. One adverse impact of this comprehension gap manifests itself in the courtroom. Courtroom translation in the Arab world (i.e. consecutive interpreting/reporting from Colloquial into Standard Arabic) occurs systematically and is the only means of documenting courtroom proceedings. Despite its functional importance in the light of language manoeuvrability and translation accuracy, the legal implications of the Colloquial—Standard Arabic proximity in the context of linguistic rights have not been theoretically nor empirically researched. Accordingly, this paper introduces the dynamics of language use in a hierarchical judicial system in one Arab country, Lebanon. This paper is a theoretical first brick in the wall of linguistic rights in the Lebanese courtroom, where — in the absence of a jury system — linguistic discretion in the legal decision-making process rests upon the bench judge. In addition, this paper highlights the vulnerability of illiterate people vis-à-vis the use of Standard Arabic in legal settings at the expense of their preferred first or only language, Lebanese Colloquial.

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