Interpreting for vulnerable populations: Tracing the role of interpreters in contexts of vulnerability

Lucia Ruiz Rosendo, Conor Martin


This contribution serves as the introductory framework for the articles featured in the special issue of Just. Journal of Language Rights and Minorities, Revista de Drets Lingüístics i Minories exploring interpreting for vulnerable populations. Noting the increasing interest in the role of interpreters who work with populations experiencing varying degrees of vulnerability in different settings, this introduction starts by examining some nuanced definitions and causes of vulnerability and the ways in which we are vulnerable to others. The guest editors then focus on language as an important element which can engender vulnerability and consider how interpreters play a pivotal role in mitigating this vulnerability when facilitating access to communication. They discuss how the articles in this special issue address the notion of vulnerability and the complex role of interpreters who work for specific categories of vulnerable populations in different institutional and geographical contexts. The articles describe the elements that interpreters must navigate when managing these challenging situations characterised by high stakes for the vulnerable person and often (highly) asymmetrical power dynamics and dependency.


interpreting; vulnerability; vulnerable populations; dependency; language rights

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