In Search of Military Translation Cultures

Translation and Interpreting in World War II in Finland

Interrogation in War and Conflict

Sinikka and Pekka visited the city of Reading, UK and participated in the workshop “Interrogation in War and Conflict: Between Liberty, Security and Justice”  – a workshop organised by Hillary Ann Footitt and Simona Tobia (from Languages at War) and supported by the Leverhulme Major Research Programme The Liberal Way of War on 29 November 2011. The workshop had three panels: The panel “Military interrogation: the questioning on enemies” contained papers on military interrogation practices in different military conflicts and operations. The second panel on “Forensic interrogation and international justice” focused on questioning practices especially in the context of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The closing panel on “‘HumInt’: interrogation, intelligence and security” compared questioning practices in liberal and totalitarian states with special focus on their psychological consequences on prisoners.

The issue of language (as well as translation and interpreting) was taken up in most of the papers, but was dealt with in more detail in at least three papers: Franziska Heimburger described the methods of French interpreters in obtaining information from German POWs during the First World War. Alice Zago from the Prosecutor’s Office at ICC pointed out the important role of interpreters as part of the team but described his/her task as “translating everything word-by-word” with the apparent function of having translators’ agency under control; the question, how this translation method was checked and to what extent word-by-word translation really guarantees interpreters’ neutrality, remained unanswered. This question of assumed or “perceived neutrality” of interpreters working at the ICTY was taken further by Louise Askew, who discussed translators’ and interpreters’ impartiality in the context of ethics and ethnicity.

 

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