Language in the news

AIIC has chosen professional secrecy as a subject for special discussion at its next assembly. There may be a lot of time before we meet in Nice in January 2009, but to lubricate our mental gears for the run-in, let's take a look at websites with something to say about ethics and interpreting in general.

For me interpreting is a profession (an occupation that requires considerable training and specialised study, as well as the body of qualified persons practicing the occupation) and not an industry (a fashionable but hollow term). Professionalization and ethics march hand and hand - codified standards play an essential role in the consolidation of a profession, and greater professionalization promotes respect for standards among both practitioners and clients.

A framework right here in the webzine

Over the years many a Communicate! article has touched on these matters. These pages provide a good starting point.

A World Tour

"... The need for trained interpreters in public services is acute. Yet the professionalization of interpreting is rough and uneven, in part because most interpreters lack national codes of ethics and standards of practice to guide their work." Thus begins The Interpreter's World Tour, a 54-page booklet examining interpreting (general, medical, court/legal, community, conference, sign language) standards of practice around the globe.

Details from Quebec

The Code of ethics of the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec goes into more detail than most I've seen, with section headings such as "Duties towards the public" and "Duties towards clients," and may provide some food for thought. Read it in French here.

In the Courts

The US National Center for State Courts offers this page on Ethics for Court Employees. You'll be able to link to general information and to various sample codes, such as the Wisconsin Code of Ethics for Court Interpreters. The Model Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters in the Judiciary is also of interest.

For something more international, take a look at the Code of Ethics for interpreters and translators employed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


"Nowadays, a lawyer's duties often cannot be found in a single body of rules such as the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct but are likely to vary..." Legal Ethics Fall Apart offers a fascinating view of how eternal values may mutate under force of circumstance, especially when a profession turns into a hodge-podge collection of players rather than a collective of qualified individuals . Interpreting faces some of the same challenges.

From St. Jerome

This special issue of The Translator contains several articles on interpreting, including "Look Who's Talking: The Ethics of Entertainment and Talkshow Interpreting" and "Ethics in the Fuzzy Domain of Interpreting: A 'Military' Perspective."

Medical interpreting

The DiversityRx website offers this page on interpreter practice. See the "section links" to go to overviews on Role and Practice Issues and Ethics. Hyperlinks to specific codes of ethics are also available.

Recommended citation format:
Luigi LUCCARELLI. "Language in the news". March 3, 2008. Accessed July 12, 2020. <>.

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