Jamie Spurway

Jamie Spurway

I am a diversity trainer and currently work with Glasgow University. I specialise in delivering courses about refugees, human trafficking, equality, gender and religious & cultural diversity.

Location Glasgow, UK


  • Thanks Naqeebullah. Such experiences are bound to leave a profound impression on us.

  • Very much agree Karin!

  • Good question Elizabeth. The times that I have heard of this happening is when the interpreter and the client/ refugee are from the same country. So the interpreter has a sense that they would know if the refugee's experience is true. But as many other learners have commented, coming from the same country is not the same as knowing someone else's life!

  • Good summary - 'be an interpreter, not judge'!

  • Thanks Yumiao. I'm interested to hear you say that you never think of what you have interpreted again! You really don't think of it at all?

  • Thanks Sherine

  • Interesting suggestion Gentiana.

  • I agree, all parties fully understanding the role of an interpreter prevents many problems from arising.

  • Thanks Sherine, the question asked whether you have heard of such unethical practice by interpreters?

  • Thanks Elizabeth. The debrief after an interpreting session is considered good practice by many, but is not required or even (I believe) particularly common.

  • Thanks Roberto, a comprehensive answer.

  • In your answers, if you have time please consider all three questions. Thanks.

  • Thanks all for this important discussion. I agree with the sense that an interpreter can share the emotional quality and impact of an interpreting session. The key for me is that they would not name the client they were referring to, or name any identifying features like nationality, religion etc. So something like 'I was interpreting for someone who had...

  • Thanks Sally, comprehensive answer.

  • Thanks Madelaine. Can you clarify what you mean by 'sensible information'?

  • Thanks Sherine, what do you feel about the issue of whether interpreters should be held legally accountable?

  • In your answers please address the question of whether interpreters should be legally accountable if they breach a code of conduct. Thanks all.

  • Detailed analysis Boris, thanks.

  • Helpful inputs Elizabeth, thank you.

  • Thanks Sally, helpful points. Yes the absence of any mention of wellbeing is very telling! I wonder how often it occurs in other codes of conduct.
    And your query of the phrase 'good standing in the community' is very valid. That might mean quite different things to different people! And I wonder why they feel it is important at all. Someone who is new to...

  • Thanks Karin, yes I think often the authors of these documents find it easier to say what behaviour is prohibited than what is the ideal they wish people to adhere to.

  • Thanks Yumiao, your point about respect being understood differently is an important one I think. It can be understood differently between individuals and especially between different cultures. Eye contact is an example that comes to mind. In some cultures respect is shown by lowering your eyes, in the UK avoiding eye contact is generally seen as...

  • Thanks Gema, it hadn't occurred to me that the Capita one could be applied to other professions.

  • Hi Sofia. No I would not say that there are true/ false, right/ wrong answers to these three questions. We ask them because they open up discussion and illustrate some of the complexities around the role of an interpreter. In relation to the first question around expressing emotion, I remember working with interpreters who did this very well. Their...

  • I appreciate you making the effort to respond in English then. It will ensure that we can all understand and respond to your comments.

  • You are right Karolina, there is no national code in the UK. Different organisations will often have their own code.

  • Thanks Sally. Do you find that the various codes are broadly similar? Or are there significant, and potentially problematic, differences between them?

  • Thanks Boris, I appreciate your reference to inaccuracy turning another context into a legal one.
    In relation to confidentiality, the main reason other learners are providing for this is when there could be a risk of harm from abiding by confidentiality.

  • Thanks Yumiao. I think you are absolutely right not to sign the 'support person form'. But I can imagine those who do not understand the role of an interpreter might argue with you about it. Has it been difficult to persuade some police officers about this?

  • Thanks Mihaela. Are there any examples you feel able to provide? Of when you were asked to take sides I mean.

  • Thanks Elizabeth. Here in the UK (and I suspect in other countries of asylum too) there is sadly a great deal of skepticism among immigration authorities to the narratives of those seeking asylum. The people responsible for deciding whether or not to grant refugee protection often approach the task with a mindset that many people lie in their claims and they...

  • Thanks Karolina. What were your thoughts on the questions about accuracy and impartiality?

  • Thanks Sally, comprehensive answer. I appreciate your reference to the natural and inevitable affinity that interpreters will feel towards some more than other. As you say, it would be the expression of that feeling that would be inappropriate, not the feeling itself.

  • If you have time, please try to answer all three questions that are posed. They are:
    1. Does the level of ‘accuracy’ depend on the context: e.g. is the level of accuracy needed in the legal context different from that in the medical context?
    2. Have you ever been implicitly asked ‘to take sides’? How did you react?
    3. Can you think of an example in which...

  • Welcome to our third and final week together everyone. Here we start to dig into some of the more subtle, complex and challenging elements of humanitarian interpreting.

  • Others might argue there is a subtle difference between the two Yumiao but my feeling is that they essentially mean the same, yes.

  • Really glad to hear it Yaw! Thanks for the feedback

  • Thanks for all your engagement over week 2 folks. I've enjoyed reading your comments and discussion. See you in week 3!

  • Thanks Anastasiia. Yes it is very important that interpreters admit when they do not speak the same dialect as the client. Because of the power imbalance, we cannot assume that the client will feel able to say that they are struggling to understand the interpreter. Many people would feel that it would be disrespectful to the interpreter to say so.

  • Important points all. And glad to see you responding to each other's input. Thanks for this.

  • Good point Ibtihal

  • Very true Karolina

  • Thanks all. Yes these differences between languages (such as some languages not having gendered pronouns like he or she) is something that many service providers do not understand. This is especially true here in the UK where the vast majority of people only speak English!