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A major international conference on public service interpreting and translating has been held at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Campus.

Scotland may be a small country, but it encapsulates many of the challenges shared by our colleagues around the world.
Christine Wilson

Over 350 delegates from more than 30 countries attended the Critical Link 8 Conference, hosted by Heriot-Watt’s Department of Languages & Intercultural Studies (LINCS). The conference explored working together across professional, geographic, user-group and language communities; coping with current and emerging constraints, including economic, environmental, geographic, legal, linguistic and social constraints; and working with and through technology.

Specific challenges discussed included such topical issues as provision for asylum seekers, all aspects of legal procedures and particularly issues related to victims, child and vulnerable witnesses in the legal domain, gender-based violence and issues in the healthcare sector, particularly mental health concerns.

The keynote address, entitled ‘A language which he understands: the role of the interpreter in court proceedings’,  was given by the head of the Scottish Judiciary, the Lord President and Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, and the conference received a letter from the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, saying that the Scottish Government greatly values the work of translators and interpreters in supporting many people in Scotland to participate in society.

Chair of the CL8 organising committee, Christine Wilson, Associate Professor of Languages in the School of Management and Languages, said, “In addition to the conference’s main themes, the conference also highlighted Scotland’s profile as a country which focuses on social inclusion, equality and fairness. Scotland may be a small country, but it encapsulates many of the challenges shared by our colleagues around the world regarding the provision of interpreting and translation, the impact of these services and models for possible solutions."