Ethical implications in situations where the language of interpretation shifts: the AUSIT Code of Ethics re-visited.


  • Jim Hlavac Monash University


ethics, AUSIT Code of Ethics, shifting, multilingualism, code-switching, proficiency, dominance


In interpretation situations, shifting from one language of interpretation to another (i.e. from language a and language x to language a and language y) is an unusual but not unknown phenomenon. It can only occur in interactions between multilingual clients and multilingual interpreters, typically when clients wish to shift to their dominant language and interpreters also have proficiency in this language. Twenty Australian-based interpreters, out of a sample of sixty, reported engaging in shifting in the course of interpreting. Responses to hypothetical shifts in the language of interpretation are discussed in which interpreter informants provide acceptability judgements of courses of action and justifications for accepting – or refusing to accept – a shift in the language of interpretation. Ethical considerations relevant to interpreters in these situations are discussed and the AUSIT Code of Ethics is examined to see which guidelines relate to this phenomenon.

Author Biography

  • Jim Hlavac, Monash University

    Dr Jim Hlavac is a lecturer in the Arts Academic Language and Learning Unit, Faculty of Arts, Monash University. He has worked as a freelance translator in Austria, Germany and Croatia and as a community interpreter and accredited translator in Australia. He has published and lectured on translation and interpreting studies, bilingualism, contact linguistics, pragmatics and language policy.