First Advisor

Alissa Hartig

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Applied Linguistics and University Honors


Applied Linguistics




Translators -- United States, Court interpreting and translating -- United States, Translators -- Professional ethics, Political refugees -- Services for




In Oregon, requests for court interpreters of languages indigenous to Latin America have increased within the last few years. However, the number of available indigenous-language court interpreters in the U.S. remains low. During the 2019 U.S.--Mexico Border Crisis, many refugees seeking asylum were from Mayan communities; indigenous-language court interpreters struggled to meet the demand. Even though court interpreting is a civil right in the U.S., many individuals have been afforded inadequate language services, or have gone without interpreters altogether. This study seeks to understand the experience of indigenous-language court interpreters, who must operate according to a code of ethics, through interview data collected from two court interpreters. By interviewing court interpreters, this study not only garners a better understanding of how interpreters are constrained under the current laws, but also illustrates some of the struggles and experiences that are unique to indigenous clients themselves. Though research has been done regarding court interpreters of majority languages, there has been little documentation regarding indigenous communities and clients, and how they fare under the current system. The participants of this study report flaws in the code of ethics, and unreliable methods by which court interpreters are assessed. The lack of support systems in place for indigenous-language clients and interpreters means that interpreters must advocate for their clients, and for their own position and importance within the courtroom.


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