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citation SPA Interpretación para los servicios públicos



source  origins

Community (or public service) interpreting is a relatively recent coinage (end of 20th century) referring to an interlinguistic and intercultural communication that serves the community and takes place in and for the public services, be it legal (police, asylum, prisons), medical or educational


 other denominations  other names

Unlike the terms bilateral or liaison, which are not linked to a particular setting but refer to the way in which interpreting is performed (short exchanges, normally without note-taking, double directionality), the term dialogue interpreting has settled as “the most comprehensive designation for interpreting in non-conference settings” (Hale 2015), whereas the term social interpreting reminds us that its users are not members of elite groups engaging in unidirectional communication (at international summits), but rather belong to a social group that needs to communicate with others to exercise their rights (within the welfare  sectors), or operate in any other areas of life, from lodging conflicts within neighbours’ associations, teacher-parent meetings in educational contexts, to all kind of health and legal matters. Community interpreting covers the same definition but is preferred on grounds of its widespread usage by the academia.


summary  abstract

Community or Public Service Interpreting (PSI) describe the linguistic mediation allowing speakers of the societal language to communicate with linguistic minorities, granting the latter access to services on grounds of equal rights.

Although the role of community interpreters has been crucial throughout the evolution of human civilization, this branch has a relatively recent trajectory in the academic world. Community interpreting is defined as the result of linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity among segments of population worldwide and their need for interaction (be it through spoken or signed languages) with administrations and service providers. From this perspective, community interpreters are the guarantors of communication, implementation and protection of the rights set forth by international treaties and institutions. According to ISO 13611/2014, community interpreting is needed in 6 main settings, and interpreters must have 16 professional competencies and 7 skills, perform 12 functions and take on 6 responsibilities.

Academic research on interpreting began in the 20th century with the aim of creating teaching tools through which (self-taught) experienced interpreters could transmit their expertise to younger generations and it soon went on to reflect on interpreting as a discipline, giving rise to landmark works on the analysis of communicative needs, professional requirements, situational variables, and interpreting process and product descriptions. A sustained and systematic research in Community Interpreting is related to the beginning of the 21st century when aspects of a psychological and social nature started being addressed together with basic issues such as quality, ethics, or roles.

Any approach to the field of Community Interpreting cannot ignore definitions given by the Routledge Encyclopedia of Interpreting Studies (Pöchhacker 2015) and categories selected by the ISO13611/2014 as academically and professionally fundamental for the discussed topic. The terminological prolixity denoting difficulty in delimiting the span of the branch (due to the multitude of factors intervening) as well as issues related to training and professionalization will be tackled. 


data sheet   record

author Catalina Iliescu Gheorghiu
publication date 2022
reference (how to cite) Iliescu Gheorghiu, Catalina. 2022. "Community interpreting" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI
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