“I’ll just intervene whenever he finds it a bit difficult to answer”: Exploding the myth of literalism in interpreted interviews

F Gallai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Despite the growing prevalence of interpreter-mediated interviews, this area remains widely under-researched in Interpreting and Police studies alike. Through the analysis of the “participation framework” (Goffman, 1981), this small-scale study aims to challenge the myth of literalism in seven interpreted police interviews involving Portuguese- and Italian-speaking suspects and a Portuguese-speaking witness. In particular, it investigates the impact that “shifts in footing”, i.e. the orientation of speakers towards each other and towards the verbal output (Wadensjö, 1998), have on rapport building in the first stage of cognitive interviews. Findings show that the specific moves contribute to the police interpreter’s participation as police officers lose the control of topic and turns and the effectiveness of the interrogation is reduced, suggesting the need for a more nuanced conceptualisation of Codes of Practice and extensive training for interpreters and interviewers in sociological aspects of interpreted encounters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-78
JournalInvestigative Interviewing: Research and Practice (II-RP)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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