The Interpreter – Servant to Meaning or Master of Words?

Conference: The Asian Conference on Language (ACL2022)
Title: The Interpreter – Servant to Meaning or Master of Words?
Stream: Linguistics
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Liang Joo Leow, University of New England, Australia


Interpreting (spoken), alongside translation (written) is essential for communication when there is no common language. Conventionally, interpreters works from one source language (SL) into another target language (TL). Interpreter training reflects this as students learn techniques to convey messages from one SL to one TL, after a speaker has paused or finished speaking (consecutive interpreting/CI), or concurrently while the speaker is talking (simultaneous interpreting/SI). New awareness of hybrid interpreting models challenge rigid delineation between CI/SI. In addition, rigidity in defining source languages makes no allowance for people who combine different languages when they speak. This phenomenon of translanguaging, has not been widely studied in the context of interpreting and interpreter training. It appears that while interpreters are necessarily multilingual, interpreting is not well-placed to manage the potential richness of a multilingual speaker’s language repertoire. Traditionally, interpreting relates to transfer of spoken words in one language into those of another at a particular time. However, the concept of a message, and more broadly of communication, encompasses far more beyond spoken words. This includes accents, non-verbal communication or body language, and inherent culture. Inherent culture represents the cultural basis by which any utterance is made and by which it is then heard and understood. Communicating this effectively and accurately relies on listeners having a degree of common cultural knowledge with speakers. Interpreters must bridge a cultural gap in the absence of such common knowledge. This presentation explores approaches to these challenges both in the practice of interpreting and interpreter training.

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