Speak English or What Codeswitching and Interpreter Use in New York City Courts
This book presents a study of interpreter-mediated interaction in New York City small claims courts, drawing on audio-recorded arbitration hearings and ethnographic fieldwork. Focusing on the language use of speakers of Haitian Creole, Polish, Russian, or Spanish, the study explores how these litigants make use of their limited proficiency in English, in addition to communicating with the help of professional court interpreters.
Drawing on research on courtroom interaction, legal interpreting, and conversational codeswitching, the study explores how the ability of immigrant litigants to participate in these hearings is impacted by institutional language practices and underlying language ideologies, as well as by the approaches of individual arbitrators and interpreters who vary in their willingness to accommodate to litigants and share the burden of communication with them.
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