Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Exploring the role of the pastoral interpreter

Herculene Kotzé
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 2 | a4873 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i2.4873 | © 2018 Herculene Kotzé | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 November 2017 | Published: 15 November 2018

About the author(s)

Herculene Kotzé, School of Languages, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, South Africa


This article investigated the role of the pastoral interpreter within this contextually specific environment, taking cognisance of the debate regarding professional and non-professional interpreting and what this debate means for future research on interpreting role descriptions. Generally, pastoral interpreters in South Africa are untrained and not remunerated for their work as interpreters. Considering the foregoing, this investigation aimed to define the role of the pastoral interpreter in South Africa by using existing interpreting role models as a point of departure. The population of respondents involved in the study included all the freelance pastoral interpreters voluntarily working as interpreters at a Dutch Reformed Church in Pretoria, South Africa. Primary data collection took place in the form of (1) a structured self-administered questionnaire and (2) a semi-structured focus group interview. The data were analysed using qualitative data analysis software, Atlas.ti. From the results of the study it can be deduced that pastoral interpreters’ perception is that it would be unethical to not act according to what they believe in, and that is to deliver a message received from the Holy Spirit, thus becoming a spiritual conduit. The results of the study also indicated that formal training would enhance pastoral interpreting practices as there are gaps in untrained pastoral interpreters’ theoretical knowledge and knowledge of standard interpreting practice.


Interpreting; Pastoral interpreting; Spiritual conduit


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Crossref Citations

1. A critical review of church interpreting research
Jonathan Downie
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doi: 10.1177/27523810231225118