For the past 12 months I dealt with Crime every single day therefore I will risk saying that Crime, to some extent, has essentially become part of my life. Anyhow my encounters with Crime varied during the course of a day. While mornings were for interpreting Crime stories in courts, late afternoons were mostly reserved to confront Crime in the libraries. And when autumn came around my evenings were given over to teaching the subject of Crime.
Almost every day for the past year I have worked in and entered an English court as an interpreter. In the court setting a Crime is defined as a violation of law and my role as a court interpreter is to give voices to foreign wrong-doers and English legal professionals in languages they don’t speak or understand. I suppose few people are aware of how unique the context of my profession is, and the longer I work as a court interpreter the more fascinated I become by its merits and constraints. Defendants, witnesses, victims, lawyers, judges, jurors and court interpreters – we all appear in court to deal with and process Crime in the form of miscellaneous offences. Despite we have different roles to play, when all is said and done it feels as if we are all partners in Crime. Although my identity in those settings is bound up with translating an endless sea of words, idioms and phrases, the court context provides me with an overwhelming amount of knowledge, experience and academic inspiration.
Although there were days when I would speak (interpret) all day long, at the end of the day I would always remain a silent witness to the multitude of situations that remained untranslated, undiscussed and most probably unnoticed to other people. These are the things that get lost in translation, and by all means I don’t mean the words. It is something that some would call criminological insights, something that in court settings oftentimes becomes emotionally and physically overwhelming. With hindsight I can see that in the past year I appeared each morning in court as a linguist, however, almost always I left as a criminologist.
Academia was and still is my saviour. What got lost in translation in courts was then found in libraries, at seminars or in less formal talks on Crime. My own research in particular has been something I would frequently find solace in. Mastering my doctoral thesis has been a process where I can speak with my own voice. Despite the fact that I research and interpret how lay people talk and understand punishment and justice, Crime still finds its way. Academic writing became the best cure and a space where I could channel my undiscussed observations and tacit knowledge into written arguments. And on that note, thanks to academic writing and court interpreting I became more aware of the power of communication and respectful of the use of words. Although this freedom is limited as I am still constrained to say only as much as my fieldwork data lets me, writing had never been as beautifully liberating as it has been in the past year.
Last year I was also given the opportunity to teach about Crime. Teaching is a great responsibility but teaching something that is someone’s absolute passion is an art. While the latter will remain my lifetime goal, the responsibility lies in the fact that there is no one else, but myself, to select the infinite possibilities of Crime interpretation … contextualisation … presentation … The overarching goal of my lectures was to develop amongst students the criminological imagination. One of the many things I hope my students have learnt from the lectures is that in the future they will be able to think on their own and try to self-delineate, challenge or dispel myths about so many taken-for-granted Crime concepts. Nevertheless it is worth remembering that teaching is a mutual learning process – last autumn I went on a beautiful journey that tested my skills of ‘responsibility’, invigorated my own criminological imagination and definitely stimulated my academic appetite for better Crime teaching.
Last but not least, as I am entering my second year of blogging, I would like to thank everyone who has visited Lost in Translation: Interpreting the Criminal World so far. I have to admit that I was a rather modest blogger as I managed to publish only 25 posts. However, the number of guests in the first year of this blog exceeded my wildest expectations, and this has only encouraged and inspired me to write better and more often. Based on the experience of my first year I have come up with new ideas to make this blog more interesting and engaging. My professional life is full of known and unknown aspects of Crime, and for this reason, I am looking forward to my second year of blogging about Crime and the Criminal World.