Interpreting intercepted communication: From talk to evidence


  • Ivana Havelka Université de Neuchâtel



lawful wiretapping, intercept interpreters, police interpreting, multimodality, hybrid translational activity, discourse analysis


This paper examines the multi-layered translational process of intercepted conversations which appear as evidence in court files in the form of translated wiretap records. The translational challenge here is to transfer the multimodal content of a spoken text in the source language into a written text in the target language. Based on audio data from 17 original intercepted communications and case file documents from a Swiss criminal investigation, the multimodality of the resulting hybrid translational action is explored. In this paper, the process of interlingual decontextualisation and recontextualisation of intercepted communication is examined from the bottom up. The analysis shows that there are different levels of contextualisation that must be considered to achieve a fuller picture of the meaning of a wiretapped conversation.