Etica, filosofia e mediazione linguistica: dall’Etica della filosofia occidentale al codice deontologico della mediazione linguistica


Abstract Over the last few years, the issue of professional ethics has received much attention in the field of interpreting and translation, and in particular in the field of Community Interpreting (CI) or Public Service Interpreting (PSI). (In this chapter we will refer to CI or PSI in Italian as ‘Mediazione Linguistica’.) Today, ‘ethics’ figures prominently in the literature, in international conferences, in interpreting courses, in translation/interpreting mailing lists as well as in the working lives of professional interpreters. As an object of theoretical inquiry (meta-ethics) as well as a guide for human conduct (normative ethics), ethics has been a prime focus of Western moral philosophy since the time of the Ancient Greeks. This chapter situates the main ethical tenets of the CI/PSI interpreting profession within the framework of the main principles of moral philosophy, namely notions of ‘good’, ‘virtue’, ‘duty’, ‘responsibility’, ‘utility’ and ‘consequence of actions’. The three principal ethical tenets of CI/PSI discussed in this chapter, Accuracy, Impartiality and Confidentiality, were identified on the basis of a general literature review and more specifically from a variegated (and to some degree representative) sample of CI/PSI Codes of Ethics. The chapter argues that there is an underlying connection between the principal tenets of moral philosophy and those of the interpreting profession (which mirror similar ethical principles in other professions). The tenet of Accuracy could be seen as a ‘contract’ between interpreter and client, interpreter and source, interpreter and text/translation process/profession. The chapter situates the interpreter’s sense of duty and responsibility towards this tenet at an individual and collective level, within the Kantian tradition of Duty. The other two tenets – impartiality and confidentiality – safeguard the interpreter’s conduct towards the source (author/speaker), professional community and institution as well as towards the receiver (reader/listener).

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v16p393

Keywords: Community interpreting; language mediation; ethics; philosophy


Chesterman A. 1997, Ethics of Translation, in Snell-Hornby M., Juttmarovà Z. e Kindl K. (a cura di), Translation as Intercultural Communication, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp.147-157.

Chesterman A. 2001, Proposal for a Hieronymic Oath, in “The Translator” 7 [2], pp.139-154. Corsellis A. 2008, Public Service Interpreting. The First Steps, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Favaro G. e Luatti L. (a cura di) 2004, L’intercultura dalla A alla Z, Franco Angeli, Milano. Freidson E. 1994, Professionalism Reborn: Theory, Prophecy and Policy, Polity Press, Cambridge.

Garzone G. 2009, Osservazioni sul profilo professionale del mediatore linguistico e dell’interprete in ambito sociale nella prospettiva deontologica, Università di Milano, Milano. (10.10.2015).

Graham G. 2011, Theories of Ethics. An Introduction to Moral Philosophy with a Selection of Classic Readings, Routledge, Londra.

Haidt J. 2012, The Righteous Mind. Why Good people are Divided by Politics and Religion, Allen Lane, Londra.

Hale S. 2007, Community Interpreting, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.

Kultgen J. 1988, Ethics and Professionalism, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Mikkelson H. 1999, The Professionalization of Community Interpreting. (10/10/2015).

Mikkelson H. e Jourdenais R. (a cura di) 2015, Handbook of Interpreting, Routledge, Londra.

Mattison M. 2000, Ethical Decision Making: The Person in the Process, in “Social Work” 45 [3], pp.201-212.

Munday J. 2001, Introducing Translation Studies, Routledge, Londra.

Ozolins U. 2015, Ethics and the Role of the Interpreter, in Mikkelson H. e Jourdenais R. (a cura di), Handbook of Interpreting, Routledge, Londra, pp.319-336.

Pöchhacker F. 2004, Introducing Interpreting Studies, Routledge, Londra.

Pöchhacker F. 2006, Going Social? On Pathways and Paradigms in Interpreting Studies, in Pym A., Shlesinger M. e Jettmarovà J. (a cura di), Sociocultural Aspects of Translating and Interpreting, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 215-232.

Pöchhacker F. 2008, Interpreting as Mediation, in Valero-Garcès C. e Martin A. (a cura di), Crossing Borders in Community Interpreting, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 9-26.

Pym A. (a cura di) 2001, The Return to Ethics, St Jerome, Manchester.

Pym A. 2006, On the Social and the Cultural in Translation Studies, in Pym A., Shlesinger M. e Jettmarovà Z. (a cura di), Sociocultural Aspects of Translating and Interpreting, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 1-25.

Pym A. 2009, Exploring Translation Theories, Routledge, Londra.

Pym A. 2012, On Translator Ethics: Principles for Mediation between Cultures, John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Ross W. D. 1930, The Right and the Good, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Ross W. D. 1939, Foundations of Ethics, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Rudvin M. 2006, The Cultural Turn in Community Interpreting. A Brief Analysis of Epistemological Developments in Community Interpreting Literature in the Light of Paradigm Changes in the Humanities, in Hertog E. e van der Veer B (a cura di), Taking Stock: Research and Methodology in Community Interpreting, special edition of “Linguistica Antverpiensia” 5, pp 21-41.

Rudvin M. 2007, Socio-cultural Constraints and the Public Service Interpreter. The Impact of Individualism vs. Collective Group Identity on Interpreting Strategies and Performance on Notions of ‘Professionalism’, in “Interpreting: International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting” 9 [1], pp 47-69.

Rudvin M. e Spinzi C. 2014, Setting the Borders for Terminological Usage of ‘Language Mediation’ in English and Italian. A Discussion of the Repercussions of Terminology on the Practice, Self-perception and Role of Language Mediators in Italy, in “Lingue, Culture, Mediazione” 1 [1], pp. 57-79. (10.10.2015).

Rudvin M., Skaaden, H. e Phelan, M. (in stampa), Ethics in Public Service Interpreting, Routledge, Londra.

Russo M. 2014, Al di là delle denominazioni: limiti e orizzonti di ruoli e funzioni del mediatore linguistico-culturale, in “Lingue, Culture, Mediazione” 1 [1], pp. 81-100. (10.10.2015).

Shweder R.A. 1990, Cultural Psychology: What Is It?, in Stigler J.W., Shweder R.A. e Herdt G. (a cura di), Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.1-4.

Shweder R. e LeVine R. (a cura di) 1984, Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion. New York, Cambridge University Press, New York.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (10.10.2015).

Toury G. 1995, Descriptive Translation Studies and Beyond, John Benjamins, Amsterdam.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.