The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 37

IF
a couple of remarks on the

permeating the statements of

The Bostonian, New Yorker,

subject. Besides, trials are not

those for whom they interpret,

and Midwestern accents are

the only court setting where

certainly campaigning against

vestiges of our Irish, Italian,

accent bias is present.

bias would help. Still, in our

and Spanish immigration to

OTHER ARTICLES AND
STUDIES OF INTEREST

Often judges, court staff,

case, there's more we can do.

the U.S. in the 19th and 20th

and attorneys must deal with

If our pronunciation is strong

centuries. Mexican, Nigerian,

people with a noticeable

enough to hurt our clients,

Chinese, or Vietnamese

we should consider enrolling

accents are the product of

in an accent reduction

new patterns of migration.

foreign accent, and accent
bias is often present during
their interactions with
limited-English-proficient
(LEP) individuals. Mandatory
courses with topics that
include unconscious bias
against foreigners are more
likely to have a long-term
positive effect, at least
amongst stakeholders such
as police officers, victims'
advocates, caseworkers, court
staff, attorneys, and judges,
who often deal with language
access and LEP individuals.
Juries need to understand that
regionalisms and accents are
irrelevant when deciding the
veracity of a statement. Saying
pee-can instead of puh-kahn
is how someone learned how
to say " pecan, " depending on
where they learned English.
It has nothing to do with the

class. We must also help

If all else fails, we must

stakeholders understand that

remind people that our

interpreter fatigue contributes

accents are part of our

to mispronouncing words

identity. Discriminating

or pronouncing words

against a person because of

emphasizing the wrong

the way they speak is as

syllables, which makes

shameful as discriminating

our subtle accents more

against someone for the

noticeable. Allowing

color of their skin.

interpreters to work in

Furthermore, accent bias is a

teams and to have breaks

form of national origin

when fatigue becomes

discrimination, which has no

noticeable helps reduce any

place in a courtroom. Many

interference of accents with

people didn't learn English

court procedures.

from birth. Perhaps they

Fostering empathy toward

were not exposed to it until

persons that speak with an

they were adolescents or

accent is also a good strategy.

adults, and learning a

Many of the regional accents

language after childhood

that are part of this country's

increases the chances of

identity now were once also

having difficulty speaking it

considered foreign accents.

without an accent.

likelihood of a false statement.
Another solution would be
to bring together different
associations and government
entities that often work with
people of different ethnic
backgrounds and have them
put together an accent bias
awareness campaign. These
organizations could, for
example, emphasize the
advantages of diversity.
Foreigners come to this
country not only because
they're looking for a better
way of life, but also because
they can contribute to this
country's growth by working
in fields of specialization that

For more information on the study mentioned here, read " Why
Don't We Believe Non-Native Speakers? The Influence of Accent on
Credibility, " by Shiri Lev-Ari and Boaz Keysar, which was published
in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (November 2010).
http://bit.ly/accent-credibility.

Sandra Dejeux has a BA in international studies
and an MA in Spanish translation and interpreting.
She is licensed as a court interpreter in Georgia,
a Texas master licensed court interpreter, and a
certified health care interpreter. She is actively
involved in the profession through her role as chair of the
National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators'
Bench and Bar Committee. The former director of Fort Bend
Language Access, she currently provides freelance interpreting
and translation services for courts and law firms in the Houston
metro area. She also offers online training for legal and medical
interpreters. translations@sdtranslations.org

need them.
As for the possibility
of interpreters' accents
www.ata-chronicle.online

Interpreters are a vital part of ATA. This column is designed to
offer insights and perspectives from professional interpreters.

Abrams, Joel. " Here's
How Your Foreign Accent
Can Unfairly Destroy
Your Credibility, " The
Conversation (October
29, 2019), http://bit.ly/
Abrams-credibility.
Cantone, Jason A., Leslie
N. Martinez, Cynthia
Willis-Esqueda, and
Taija Miller. " Sounding
Guilty: How Accent Bias
Affects Juror Judgments
of Culpability, " Journal
of Ethnicity in Criminal
Justice (June 2019),
http://bit.ly/Cantonesounding-guilty.
Gonzales Rose, Jasmine.
" Color-Blind But Not
Color-Deaf: Accent
Discrimination in Jury
Selection, " N.Y.U. Review
of Law & Social Change
(Volume 4, Issue 3),
https://bit.ly/Gonzalesdiscrimination.
Maeder, Evelyn M., and
Logan Ewanation. " What
Makes Race Salient? Juror
Decision-Making in SameRace versus Cross-Race
Identification Scenarios
and the Influence of
Expert Testimony, " Sage
Journals (June 19, 2018),
http://bit.ly/Maeder-race.
Richardson, John G., " Bias
in the Court! Focusing on
the Behavior of Judges,
Lawyers, and Court Staff
in Court Interactions, "
(National Center for State
Courts, 1997). https://bit.
ly/Richardson-court-bias.

American Translators Association

37


http://www.bit.ly/Abrams-credibility http://www.bit.ly/Abrams-credibility http://www.bit.ly/Cantone-sounding- guilty. http://www.bit.ly/Cantone-sounding- guilty. https://www.bit.ly/Gonzales-discrimination https://www.bit.ly/Gonzales-discrimination http://www.bit.ly/accent-credibility http://www.bit.ly/Maeder-race https://bitly/Richardson-court-bias https://bitly/Richardson-court-bias http://www.ata-chronicle.online

The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021

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