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Do They Understand ? English Trials Heard by Chinese Jurors in the Hong Kong Courtroom

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2015-2016 School of Chinese Seminar 中文學院公開講座

Do They Understand ?
English Trials Heard by Chinese Jurors in the Hong Kong Courtroom

Dr. Eva N. S. NG 吳雅珊博士
School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong 香港大學中文學院

Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Time: 3:00-4:00 pm
Venue: Room 728, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus
Language: English

Abstract Trial by jury is a key institution in the common law system. The introduction of lay persons into the judicial process, however, gives cause for concern about jurors’ comprehension of the legal language. Studies conducted in America reveal that most jurors are unable to understand pattern jury instructions due to the linguistic features typical of legalese, which to some sounds like a foreign language.

Now, what if these instructions and legal speeches are uttered in a language non-native to the jurors? This happens to be a common scenario in the Hong Kong courtroom, where English trials are typically heard by Chinese jurors. Until now, only one survey conducted in the early 1990s has shed light on this issue. Drawing on the recordings of two jury trials from the High Court, and an Appellate Court’s judgment quashing a jury verdict, the present study provides further empirical evidence supporting claims about the jurors’ comprehension problem. Failure to address this problem jeopardises not simply the administration of justice, but the very survival of the jury system in Hong Kong. This paper proposes ways to improve jurors’ access to legal speeches and the entire trial to help them return a true verdict.

講座摘要 陪審團制度乃普通法不可或缺之基石。然而案件交由普羅大眾審訊,則陪審員能否充分理解法律語言,特別令人關注。美國有研究顯示,陪審員多不理解一般陪審團指引;而艱深晦澀之法律語言,即使以英語為母語之美國人,對之亦彷如外語一般聽而不聞。


About the Speaker Dr. Eva N. S. NG graduated from The University of Hong Kong with a BA in Translation. She holds an MA in Translation and Linguistics from the University of Birmingham and a PhD in Forensic Linguistics from Aston University, both in the United Kingdom. She was a staff court interpreter in the Judiciary of the Hong Kong Government before she joined the Translation Programme of the School of Chinese. Her areas of teaching and research include translation and interpreting, forensic linguistics and bilingual courtroom discourse analysis.

講者簡介 吳雅珊博士畢業於香港大學,主修翻譯,並持有英國伯明翰大學翻譯語言學碩士學位及英國阿斯頓大學法律語言學博士學位。吳博士曾任香港司法機構法庭傳譯主任,現為中文學院翻譯課程講師,以教授口譯為主。吳博士的研究興趣包括法律語言學及雙語法庭話語分析等等。

All are welcome !

海報 Poster [1]

http://www.hku.hk/chinese [2]

Article printed from School of Chinese, University of Hong Kong: http://web.chinese.hku.hk/main

URL to article: http://web.chinese.hku.hk/main/2015/10/27/do-they-understand-english-trials-heard-by-chinese-jurors-in-the-hong-kong-courtroom/

URLs in this post:

[1] 海報 Poster: http://web.chinese.hku.hk/poster/20151117b.pdf

[2] http://www.hku.hk/chinese: http://www.hku.hk/chinese

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