Article: Conference Interpreting Daniel Gile Université Lyon 2 Pre-publication version. Published in Brown, Keith (ed). 2006. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd Ed. Oxford: Elsevier. Vol. 3. 9-23. 1. Introduction Conference interpreting is the type of interpreting which first attracted public attention and which was the first to generate substantial literature on training and theoretical issues. This article highlights some of its aspects, starting with a definition and characterization, following with a presentation of the conference interpreting profession, and concluding with a discussion of research in the field. This review is necessarily incomplete. For further insight into practical aspects of conference interpreting, see Jones (1998). For a thorough and comprehensive review of research into interpreting – albeit with debatable evaluative comments – see Pöchhacker and Shlesinger (2002) and Pöchhacker (2004). Milestone works in the field are Gran and Dodds (1989), Gerver and Sinaiko (1978), Gambier et al. (1997), Garzone and Viezzi (2002). There are other good reference books in Chinese, Czech, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish which cannot be listed here (the CIRIN Web site at http://perso.wanadoo.fr/daniel.gile/ offers regular bibliographic information on conference interpreting research or CIR). 2. Conference interpreting: a social definition In spite of what the name conference interpreting suggests, conference interpreters work not only in conferences, but also in other settings, including meetings of committees and working groups in international organizations, visits of personalities, meetings of boards of directors of large corporations, medical, information technology, economic and other scientific and technical training seminars, TV programs, arbitration proceedings, and even court trials. In other words, their activity partly overlaps with liaison interpreting, court interpreting and media interpreting. Conference interpreting is sometimes confused with simultaneous interpreting (see for example Christoffels 2004: 1), in which the interpreter sits in a booth and speaks at the same time as the speaker s/he is translating. Actually, conference interpreting as a profession started in the exclusive form of consecutive interpreting (the speaker makes an utterance, stops for the interpreter to translate it, then resumes his/her speech, stops again for the interpreter to translate the second passage, and so on). While simultaneous interpreting (SI) has become the most popular mode of interpreting, the consecutive mode is still much in demand, especially for oneto-one interaction, both in politics and in business. On the other hand, SI is also used in court interpreting. If neither the setting, nor interpreting modalities can be used to define conference interpreting, can it legitimately be viewed as categorically different from other types of interpreting? Pöchhacher (2004) speaks of a spectrum of interpreting forms, analyzes traditional categories of interpreting in terms of interaction constellations, language modality, working mode, directionality, use of technology and professional status, and shows the commonalities between them. And yet, in the West, and particularly in Western Europe, conference interpreters have a strong awareness of their identity as distinct from that of other types of interpreters (in other countries, including China, countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Japan, a rich, industrialized country, the distinction is not so sharp). Rather than objective parameters, sociological factors may be the strongest determinants of conference interpreting. This is probably best understood in the context of a historical analysis. When conference interpreting emerged as a profession in the League of Nations and International Labor Office between the two World Wars, interpreters worked in the same room as the “delegates” (the generic term used by conference interpreters for users of their services) and were very visible to the delegates, to journalists and to other observers, who admired and praised them for their skills. Many of these interpreters were academics, and/or came from the same social circles as the people they worked for. Their image in the public eye was thus very prestigious. This prestige was maintained in the early years of interpreting in the United Nations, where most interpreters were veterans of the League of Nations (Baigorri-Jalón 2000, 2004). When AIIC, the International Association of Conference Interpreters, was set up in 1953, its rules were inspired by this image of interpreters as top-level professionals with a high social prestige, and major interpreting schools in Geneva, Heidelberg and Paris followed the same example. Nowadays, many conference interpreters come from less demanding training programs and many are not members of AIIC, but the (idealized) social identity of the conference interpreter is still one of high-level professionals, and conference interpreters are reluctant to be assimilated to interpreters with a lower status such as court interpreters, business interpreters and community interpreters, regardless of the technical similarities in part of their work (and of the fact that their contribution to society can be claimed to be more important than the conference interpreters’). Thus, conference interpreters may be prototypically characterized as people who have skills in consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, who interpret at important technical, political, scientific and other meetings, who are supposed to meet high quality standards, and who consider themselves part of the conference interpreting community. 3. The conference interpreter’s professional environment There are probably fewer than ten thousand conference interpreters worldwide, about 2000 of whom are members of AIIC. Most of them are freelancers, and work for intergovernmental organizations such as UN agencies, the European Commission or OECD, for regional organizations, for non-governmental organizations, for government agencies, industrial corporations and the media. There are also staff interpreters who work as employees of intergovernmental organizations and some government agencies, but few are employees in the private sector (with exceptions such as broadcast interpreters in Japan – see BS Broadcast interpreters’ group, 1998). Most of their work is done in the simultaneous mode, but the consecutive mode is still used actively. Most conference interpreters have two or three working languages, including their A language (native or native-like), B languages (which they master well enough to interpret into them from their A language) and/or C languages (passive languages, from which they interpret into their A language). Over the past decade or so, the extension of Europe has induced more and more interpreters working for the European Union to add further European languages to their language combination, but in many other parts of the world, a twolanguage combination, generally English and the relevant country’s language, is still the most frequent. Interpreting assignments are billed by the day, and generally last 1 to 5 days, except for some general conferences and similar events in intergovernmental organizations, which may last several weeks. In countries where the market is active, interpreters work on average between 100 and 150 days a year, which is enough to make a decent living (and to leave interpreters exhausted). Conference interpreting can be and is a full professional occupation for many. In countries where the market is slack, many of them are part-time interpreters and also work as translators, journalists or academics. While in early days, most of the speeches interpreters had to translate may have been fairly general, nowadays, many are highly technical, one extreme being the (very common) written technical or scientific paper read at full speed by its author at a technical meeting, with the interpreter having to interpret it simultaneously on the spot, often without even having a copy of the paper before him/her. Even less extreme cases can be very taxing, and in the simultaneous interpreting booth, interpreters generally take turns and do not interpret for more than 30 minutes at a time, meaning that they work in teams, with a minimum of two interpreters per booth. While the first generation of interpreters was almost exclusively masculine, the vast majority of conference interpreters nowadays are women. It has been claimed that it is easier for them to accept a career as interpreters, while male interpreters are frustrated by the lack of social recognition. 4. The interpreting process and product in a nutshell Basically, interpreting involves speech comprehension (the original speaker’s) and speech production. In consecutive interpreting, they correspond to two successive phases, and throughout history and until after World War I, the process was apparently taken for granted. Consecutive interpreting only started to attract public attention when League of Nations speeches by political personalities were brilliantly interpreted by outstanding interpreters (see Baigorri Jalón 2000). Even then, what was perceived as their outstanding memory and command of languages became the focus of attention, rather than the process itself. Consecutive interpreting is now considered a technical skill, which requires training, but probably not higher-than-average memory. While consecutive interpreting seems natural, simultaneous interpreting, in which the speaker and interpreter speak at the same time, appears more mysterious. Lay people tend to admire the speed of translation. Linguists and cognitive psychologists have other questions: how do interpreters manage not to code-mix the two languages? How do they manage their cognitive resources between listening and speaking? Do they monitor themselves? How does “language transfer” occur? To what extent do they really understand what the speaker is saying? One of the first messages of interpreting community leaders and trainers was that interpreting is not tantamount to “transcoding”, a mere replacement of language units in the source language by language units in the target language; interpreters actually listen to and understand the source speech, and then reformulate it on the basis of its meaning, rather than on a word-correspondence basis. Moreover, their comprehension process involves analysis, with a contribution of both their linguistic knowledge and extra-linguistic knowledge. This strong, fundamental message describes interpreting as essentially very similar to translation. Ironically, the most vocal promoter of this idea, Danica Seleskovitch of ESIT, Paris, misperceived written translation as more akin to transcoding - until translators told her otherwise. The second important fact about interpreting, both simultaneous and “true consecutive” (conference interpreters use that name to refer to a type of interpreting where speech segments to be interpreted are long enough to require note-taking, as opposed to sentence-by-sentence interpreting), is that it is an intrinsically difficult exercise. In translation, most fundamental difficulties arise from the lack of culturally and linguistically matching words and syntactic structures in the source- and target language. In interpreting, this is less of a problem, because of some features of spontaneous speech production and reception, and in particular less stringent stylistic constraints on the target speech. On the other hand, cognitive load is very high, so much so that it probably accounts for a large number of errors and omissions in the interpreters’ output, many more than the conference interpreting community has been willing to acknowledge officially. Many of the interpreters’ strategies are aimed at either reducing cognitive load or containing the potential damage resulting from saturation of their attentional resources, whereas the translators’ strategies deal mostly with problems arising from the lack of inter-linguistic and intercultural correspondences, from lack of clarity and other weaknesses of the source text, and from gaps in their own thematic knowledge of the relevant field. In major interpreter training programmes, conference interpreters are trained to produce “the same speech” as the speaker’s in the target language. In written translation, in certain types of texts, such as scientific papers, user’s notices or press statements, the written counterpart of this aim can be considered realistic, insofar as the information content of both the source and the target version may be virtually identical, and readers who understand both languages may not find a difference between them. In interpreting, several factors make the interpreter’s presence more visible. Firstly, both in conference settings and in media interpreting, listeners can hear the speaker’s voice, albeit at a lower volume level than the interpreter’s. Another aspect is the interpreter’s prosody, including both an interpreting-specific intonation and a somewhat unnatural pause pattern (see for instance Shlesinger 1994, Ahrens 2004). Both may be largely attributed to cognitive factors: pauses correspond to hesitations (see Mead 2002) and to interpreting strategies, and unnatural prosody may be partly explained by the fact that the interpreter’s intonation control is affected by source-speech input. When listeners have a good view of the speaker, lack of synchronicity between his/her facial and body language also makes the interpreter visible. Besides delivery parameters, the question is whether content-wise, the interpreting product is the same as the original speech. The difficulty of interpreting has always been clear to all and problem triggers are often discussed in the literature. However, until recently, investigators tended to ignore its actual implications in terms of the interpreter’s output, possibly because nearly all of them are practising interpreters and interpreter trainers themselves, and there is a conflict between their professional interests and the unveiling of some of their weaknesses. Gile may have been the first to stress repeatedly in his publications the relatively high frequency of errors and omissions in interpreting output, but was not very specific. In his recent paper on the interpreting output of formula-one press-conferences, Straniero Sergio (2003) reports that 249 interpreted versions of Formula One drivers’ answers to questions from journalists in press conferences, that is, close to half of the 512 interpreted renderings in his corpus, were incorrect. In a recent doctoral dissertation which examined speeches at the European Parliament, Vuorikoski (2004) presents and discusses many examples of errors and omissions, and though no quantitative indications are given, the general tone of her analysis suggests that much gets lost in the process, at least as far as rhetorical devices are concerned. On the other hand, in many cases, the propositional content of the source speech is identical or nearly identical to the target speech content. Moreover, by correcting slips of the tongue and various types of errors in the source speech and by speaking more clearly than poor speakers or speakers with a strong accent or a poor command of the language they use, interpreters may actually get more information across to listeners and/or make the speaker’s point better than the speaker him/herself, just as good translations sometimes serve the authors’ purposes better than the source text. Actual losses and gains are yet to be explored. 5. An overview of the history of research into conference interpreting While the first research contribution in the field may well be a study by Spanish psychologist Jesús Sanz on the work and abilities of conference interpreters published in 1931 (see Pöchhacker 2004), this was an isolated case. Until the late 1960s, with the exception of an MA thesis by interpreter Eva Paneth defended in 1957, introspective and prescriptive papers, handbooks and other publications by interpreters made up the literature on conference interpreting. Two of these are considered the classics. Jean Herbert’s Manuel de l’interprète (1952) is the first general handbook of conference interpreting, and Jean-François Rozan’s La prise de notes en consécutive (1956) sets out the principles of note-taking in consecutive interpreting which are still applied by a majority of interpreters worldwide. In the 1960’s, a few psycholinguists and cognitive psychologists (Oléron and Nanpon, Goldman-Eisler, Barik, Gerver) started showing interest in the “complex skills of simultaneous interpreting” (Gerver 1976: 166). SI was seen as an interesting model, in particular in the context of a discussion of single-channel theories of human information processing, of the motor theory of speech perception, and of issues in bilingualism. A small number of experimental studies were carried out, which focused mostly on the lag between the source speech and the target speech as an indicator of complex processing, on the use of the speaker’s pauses by the interpreter, and on errors and omissions. Gerver also investigated other issues such as the effect of speed and the effect of noise on interpreting output. The best review of these early studies is probably Gerver (1976). The psychologists’ work was strongly criticized by interpreters who took up research on their own in the next stage of the history of CIR, mostly for poor ecological validity in the design of the task, the interpreting environment, the choice of subjects and assessment methods. Many of the tasks performed in the laboratory were remote from real-life interpreting. Neither did the psychological interlude contribute major findings to the knowledge of interpreting. However, as can be seen in papers edited in Pöchhacker and Shlesinger (2001), the psychologists were aware of the complexity of the task and were realistic and less ambitious than their successors from within the interpreting community, who tried to find the key to the process through introspection. Psychologists did not claim to do more than attempt a first, exploratory approach to interpreting. Moreover, many of the basic techniques they used and many of the questions they asked remain topical and have been taken as a basis for further investigation since the 1990’s. For these and other reasons, their contribution remains important. In 1977, Gerver and Sinaiko organized a symposium bringing together researchers from psychology, linguistics and sociology on the one hand, and practitioners of interpreting on the other, to see whether cooperation was possible (Gerver and Sinaiko 1978). This initiative was not successful, probably due to a large extent to the interpreters’ unwillingness to submit their craft and actual performance to experimental investigation by linguists and psychologists who, they felt, did not understand the true essence of interpreting. This conference may be taken symbolically as the starting point of a takeover of research by interpreting practitioners, who chose to ignore both their predecessors’ methods and their findings (as reflected by an almost total absence of citations of their studies in the literature), to engage in their own mode of investigation. Research into interpreting during this period, roughly from the mid-seventies to the late eighties, was dominated by the ideas and the charismatic personality of Danica Seleskovitch, who set up a doctoral program in Translation Studies at the Ecole Supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs (ESIT) of Université Paris III. Her advocacy-type research into interpreting was centered on her Théorie du sens (“theory of sense”), which essentially postulates total deverbalization between comprehension of the source speech and production of the target speech by the interpreter, denies language-pair specific processes and ignores linguistic and cognitive difficulties. Seleskovitch also rejected any intervention of linguistics or cognitive psychology in research on interpreting, as well as experimental research – note that her own doctoral dissertation (Seleskovitch 1975) was based on an experiment, albeit a very unsophisticated experiment – see further down. Under her leadership, many papers and several doctoral dissertations on interpreting were produced, and ESIT became the source of inspiration of aspiring interpreting researchers in the West (in East-European countries, Chernov and other Russian investigators took a different path, interacting with psycholinguists, but their work was not available in the West). During this period, interpreting practitioners and interpreter trainers had ample opportunity to reaffirm fundamental aspects of interpreting. They also stressed that consecutive interpreting was an important preliminary step in conference interpreter training because it gave trainees the appropriate analytical approach, whereas learning SI without this preparation entailed the risk of “parrot-like” transcoding. This “Practitioners’ period” also provided the initial stimulus and motivation for interpreting practitioners to take up research, perhaps because the kind of rationale and writing promoted at that time did not involve abstract theoretical concepts or a complex and rigorous testing procedure, and was perceived as less intimidating and taxing than more conventional types of research. On the other hand, these very features of the literature and the rejection of theory and methods from cognate disciplines were self-limiting. While reflection brought awareness and probably advances in training methodology (see Seleskovitch and Lederer 1989), it is difficult to pinpoint actual scholarly advances made during that period. Moreover, with its strong stance against experimental disciplines and quantitative, experimental methods, the prevailing paradigm prevented interdisciplinary ventures from being developed, and monopolized research into interpreting to such an extent that individual initiatives which followed different paradigms (such as Barbara Moser’s theoretical cognitive-psychology based model, or Linda Anderson’s experimental testing of the influence of previous knowledge of the speech and of the availability of the speaker’s image) could not be heard. In terms of theoretical and empirical advances, the Practitioner’s period was a period of virtual stagnation over 10 years (see Fabbro’s warning in Gambier et al. 1997, p.17). Actually, many interpreters and interpreter trainers disagreed with some of the premises of the prevailing paradigm, and in particular with the idea that language-specific differences were irrelevant to interpreting performance. A number of them also felt that introspection and prescriptive claims were not enough, and that more systematic scrutiny and testing of the claims were called for, with more scientific criteria, taking inspiration from work done in existing disciplines. Gradually, their views gained strength and visibility. A paradigm change started to emerge, as illustrated and partly triggered by a conference on interpreter training organized by the Translation and Interpreting School (SSLMIT) of the University of Trieste in November 1986 (Gran and Dodds 1989). The distinctive feature of this conference, convened by a training institution which was not well known at the time, was probably the fact that individual interpreting trainers and representatives of many other training institutions were able to speak out as equals in a setting where representatives of the more prestigious schools were a minority and some of the prevailing ideas were publicly and openly challenged for the first time in a formal meeting of interpreters. At the same conference, the SSLMIT presented its research policy, with an important interdisciplinary component through partnership with neurolinguists. This was the first time that an interpreter training institution formally announced an interdisciplinary research policy. The SSLMIT Trieste also launched The Interpreters’ Newsletter, the first journal devoted to interpreting research, and followed up with a series of empirical research projects, many of which were conducted for and reported as graduation theses, many of which were conducted with the help or under the supervision of researchers from cognate disciplines. The general orientation chosen by the SSLMIT was subsequently adopted in the CIR community as the new research model, which is still followed to this day. 6. The CIR community and its research production Except for occasional authors from the cognitive sciences who are invited to write about their disciplines and how they could contribute to CIR, virtually all authors of CIR are interpreter trainers and graduating students. The interest of cognitive psychologists and linguists in interpreting seems to be essentially limited to SI as a model to test their theories. Moreover, the conference interpreting environment is not favourable to experimental research, as is explained later in this paper. Conference interpreters generally earn more money than researchers; students who show talent for research and write good theses tend to go into professional life after graduation, perhaps after writing one paper summarizing their thesis at the request of their supervisors. This also explains why continued commitment to research, especially labour-intensive empirical research, is difficult to find among other members of the CIR community, most of whom are successful interpreters themselves. Another typical feature of conference interpreters is their educational background: most of them have studied languages, translation and/or interpreting, but few have studied academic disciplines in curricula offering formal training in research methods (psychology, sociology, the natural sciences, etc.), and only a fraction of those who have completed a PhD in interpreting (fewer than eighty so far) have worked under supervisors with such formal training. This is reflected in some qualitative characteristics of CIR discussed further down. The data presented here are taken from the CIRIN database, a systematic collection of bibliographical information about conference interpreting. It probably covers rather well books and papers published in the West. Its coverage is more uncertain with respect to MA theses and to publications in East-European, Asian and Latin-American countries which are not followed by publications in mainstream journals. Table 1 presents general productivity trends since 1970. At the time this paper is written, most of the data for years 2000 to 2003 are available, and a linear extrapolation over the period 2000-2004 was done on the basis of this information. The following general trends emerge: < insert table 1 > 1. The total volume of CIR publications, theses and dissertations is small, about 3000 items. There was a spectacular rise in the yearly production from the early seventies to the mid-nineties, with growth rates between 51 and 97% from each five-year period to the next. Growth has continued since, but at a slower rate, between 18 and 38%, with fewer than 200 new texts every year. The fast growth period may correspond to the unused potential of interpreter training programs being realized: interpreter trainers may have been more exposed and attracted to research than in the past, and graduation theses of interpreting students, which used to be devoted to either translation or terminology, were redirected towards research into interpreting. The slower growth in the past few years may indicate that this process has now come to maturation and that the pool of human resources potentially available for research into interpreting, composed almost exclusively of interpreting instructors and interpreting students, is no longer growing significantly. 2. The number of articles in collective volumes is also increasing. From the late eighties on, they were almost as numerous as papers published in journals. Over the past few years, they have actually been more numerous than papers published in journals. This may be explained by the large number of Translation Studies (TS) conferences organized by universities with translator and interpreter training programs in which interpreting researchers take part. These conferences are most often followed by proceedings. 3. The proportion of empirical studies in CIR has been increasing. After the experimental interlude, during which it was relatively high (20% in the first half of the 1970s), it dropped to around 10% during the Practitioners period. In the Renewal period, with its aspiration to more scientific methods, it picked up again, rising regularly to more than 30% in the past few years. Note that the proportion of theses reporting empirical research has been rising to even higher levels, more than 80% over the last 5 year period. Since theses account for up to close to 20% of the overall production, and many of their authors subsequently summarize them in papers, they seem to be good promoters of empirical research. 4. The total number of doctoral and postdoctoral dissertations remains very low, fewer than five a year. This rate is not likely to increase spectacularly, due to economic reasons as explained above. In countries where the market is relatively slack and getting tenure at university in an interpreter training programme requires a PhD, as has become the case in Spain recently, there may be more PhDs in the coming years than in countries where the market situation is better (Belgium and France, for example), or in countries where teaching positions do not require PhDs (such as Italy and Japan). Over the years, the most active centres in terms of publications have shifted. While in the 1970’s, French and German authors were the most prolific, in the data available so far on years 2000 to 2004, Italian authors account for 130 bibliographical items, that is, 16% of the total, Chinese authors for 104 items, Spanish authors for sixty four items and Korean and German authors for forty seven items each. However, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Firstly, as explained above, many authors write a single graduation thesis and never write again, especially in countries such as Finland, Italy and Spain, where graduation theses are a requirement and supervisors suggest strongly that they be research theses, as opposed to annotated translations or glossaries. Secondly, in some countries, and in particular in mainland China, re-publication and re-re-publication of the same paper are frequent. Thirdly, the number of bibliographical items authored in Interpreting Studies, a recent discipline without a strong research culture (see below), is not necessarily a good indicator of actual research production. A somewhat better indicator is probably the number of active authors in each centre. Most of them try to renew themselves over time, and most of them have some influence on research, if only by inspiring, and sometimes advising newcomers. Table 2 takes as a minimum activity criterion four papers over each five year period (except for the last period, 2000-2004, for which data are incomplete at the time this paper is written). As can be seen, except for a peak in Italy after the Trieste initiative, there are no more than six such active authors in every country. Considering that in the most “productive” countries, authors come from at least two distinct universities, it is difficult to talk about “research centres”, possibly with the exception of ESIT during the Practitioners’ period, of the Italian translation and interpreting schools at Trieste and Forlì, and of the JAIS (Japan Association for Interpretation Studies). Interestingly, all authors from ESIT were experienced conference interpreters cum interpreter trainers. In Italy, some of the authors are interpreters and interpreter trainers from the two universities, and some are graduating students. In Japan, initially, almost all authors were interpreter trainers without any academic affiliation (most of the training is done in private schools): over the past few years, an increasing number of academic authors are not interpreters themselves. All of these features are reflected in both the issues addressed and the type of research carried out. < insert table 2 > In a previous analysis of CIR production, on data up to and including 1999 (Gile 2000, table 3), training accounted for the highest proportion of bibliographical items, around 20%. In the 1990s, it was followed by language and linguistic issues (14%) and by professional issues (12%). Since the year 2000, proportions have not changed much: items addressing training issues still account for 20% of total production, language and linguistic issues account for 14%, and professional issues for 8%. Since MA theses account for a large number of empirical studies and herald the arrival of the next generation of interpreting researchers, it is interesting to take a closer look at their distribution over time (table 3). It appears that while Charles University, Prague, has had a tradition of graduation theses on interpreting for many years, Italian centres took over the leading rank from the mid-eighties on. Initially, the SSLMIT Trieste was virtually the single contributor to this development. Later, the SSLMIT Bologna in Forlì joined it with a regular, intensive production of theses, most of them empirical. Also note the contribution of Finland, another country with a tradition of theses at the end of translation and interpreting courses. Interestingly, a relatively large number of MA theses are being defended in China in the past few years; most of them are not empirical. < insert table 3 > For institutional reasons and in view of the limited social importance of conference interpreting (as opposed to court interpreting and community interpreting), this overall pattern does not seem likely to change much in the near future, though more input can be expected from newcomers to the European Union, and even more from China, as they join the global movement with their still unused human resources. Some leading members of the CIR community may also turn to court interpreting and community interpreting, when government interest in social and legal issues associated with immigrants and ethnic minorities results in programmes and funds for research in these fields. 7. Major issues in the literature 7.1 Training Training issues have been the most numerous in the literature throughout the development of CIR. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, training is the one topic which is relevant to all interpreter trainers, that is, virtually all authors in the CIR community; secondly, texts about training can be descriptive, analytical or prescriptive, and do not require abstract theory or rigorous empirical designs, which makes them easier to write. Indeed, save for a few exceptions, mostly experiments with admission test methods and some investigations on the personality of interpreters, which could contribute to better selection of candidates (see for example Kurz 1996), there are few reports of actual research on training issues. Besides a rather large number of general textbooks (thirty three in the CIRIN bibliography, including nine books since 2000), most texts deal with the principles of interpreter training, with ideas about testing, with descriptions of curricula and of specific training methods, with the strengths and weaknesses of specific training exercises, with training approaches, and are written in the form of descriptions, prescriptions and essays. Conference interpreter training programmes share common ground with professional translator programmes: they distance themselves from language acquisition, which they place upstream of translator/interpreter training, and focus on skills, in particular analytical skills and strategic decision-making. A difference in focus between the two disciplines is that there is much domain-specific training in translation, and little domain-specific training in conference interpreting, perhaps because few conference interpreters are specialized in a particular field. Another intriguing point about investigation into conference interpreter training is that there is a resurgence of interest in teaching and learning consecutive. At first sight, this seems surprising, since consecutive has been said to be declining strongly over the past decades. On the other hand, training in consecutive is considered indispensable by many trainers, not only as a professional skill which is still in demand, but also because it forces students to listen closely and analyze the source speech carefully before reformulating it in the target language, thus teaching and strengthening the right approach before students start learning simultaneous interpreting. What may be even more important is that research into consecutive, and especially training in consecutive, is convenient: consecutive notes are good indicators, there is a large pool of students for naturalistic and experimental studies, and the classroom environment is valid both for training and for research. 7.2 Language issues During the Practitioners’ period, discussion of linguistic theories and language-related issues was not encouraged: proponents of the mainstream school of thought claimed that they belonged upstream of interpreting, that the interpreting process was language-independent, and that any study of particular characteristics of single languages or language pairs (in contrastive studies) in the framework of discussions of interpreting would confuse issues from different realms. A radical change occurred in the late 1980s, at the start of the Renewal period. A number of authors, including interpreting instructors and graduating students, started examining the problems and strategies associated with interpreting in specific source-language target-language combinations. While most authors in the Practitioners’ period referred to English, French and German, authors now draw upon their experience with other languages, including East-European and Asian languages. The influence of text linguistics is also felt, in particular with some interest in cohesion and coherence. However, as is explained below, the main focus of CIR is cognitive, and language issues are mostly analyzed against this background, in particular with a strong implication of pragmatics (Setton 1999). 7.3 Cognitive issues SI involves heavy cognitive pressure. This is partly what attracted cognitive psychologists in the 1960s, and this is probably the most central issue around which most of CIR gravitates, just as the “free-versus-literal” translation issue has always been central to translation theory. Several statements found in the writings of proponents of ESIT’s “theory of sense” show that they were aware of the problem, but they never integrated it into their theory, possibly in an effort to keep linguistics and psychology outside CIR. Note that during the same period, the interpreter’s cognitive limitations were incorporated into Ghelly Chernov’s “probability prediction model”, which centered around the idea that human speech contains much redundancy, and that interpreters can interpret simultaneously despite the difficulty of the task by anticipating the speech to an increasing extent as it unfolds. Chernov’s model was never cited by ESIT authors, and further investigation into cognitive aspects of interpreting had to wait for the Renewal period before being taken up widely. Also in the mid-seventies, Barbara Moser, a young graduate of the interpreting program in Innsbruck, developed an information-processing model of interpreting (see Moser 1978; also see Setton 2003) based on Massaro’s model of speech comprehension, and basically traced the flow of information from the perception of sound patterns to feature detection to words, phrases, then to higher level units in successive steps, with the recurring storage of output units in “generalized abstract memory”. This relatively detailed information-processing model does not incorporate elements to account for difficulties interpreters have in either understanding the source speech or reproducing the target speech (see below), or strategies they use to overcome them. Hella Kirchhoff, from Heidelberg, may have been the first interpreter to devote serious theoretical thought to the issue of cognitive load (see her 1976 paper in Pöchhacker and Shlesinger 2002) and to the results of saturation of the interpreter’s available cognitive resources. In the early 1980s, Gile, who was not aware of Kirchhoff’s work (during the Practitioners’ period, little information was being disseminated on research outside the prevailing paradigm - the IRTIN network, now renamed CIRIN, was set up in 1990 to change this), developed a set of “Effort Models” in a similar mindset: he considered that both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting were taxing cognitive operations which easily saturated available processing capacity and caused weaknesses in the interpreter’s output (see for example Gile 1995). In his model of SI, he divided operations into a Listening and Analysis Effort L, a (shortterm) Memory Effort M, and a (target speech) Production Effort. Each of these Efforts had nonautomatic components and therefore required processing capacity, and managing attention between the Efforts required a further Coordination Effort C. According to the model, interpreting could only function if: 1. The interpreter’s total available capacity exceeded the total requirement of these three Efforts and the Coordination Effort. 2. At any time during the interpreting process, enough processing capacity was allocated to each of the Listening, Memory and Production tasks at hand. Gile attributed most of the errors, omissions and other weaknesses in interpreting output to failure to meet these conditions due to capacity overload or poor capacity management. This accounted for many problems observed in daily practice and noted in the literature, including difficulties with read speeches, with fast speakers, with strange accents, with enumerations, numbers and proper names, and explained, through a “carryover effect”, some errors and omissions in source speech segments without identifiable difficulties. Gile’s “tightrope hypothesis” posits that interpreters work close to saturation, and many events occurring during interpreting tip the scales and generate errors and omissions. Saturation phenomena also account for many problems in consecutive interpreting, which consists of two phases. During the listening phase, the interpreter’s attention is shared between listening and analysis, memory and note production in much the same way as it is shared between listening, memory and speech production in simultaneous interpreting. The reformulation phase is less critical (Gile 1995). The main functions of online strategies in simultaneous interpreting are to prevent such problems from occurring or to contain their effects, typically by controlling cognitive load. Such online strategies include stalling until further information comes in, using hypernyms, lowering memory load by unloading information in neutral sentence beginnings, anticipating, etc. (see inter alia Gile 1995). Some strategies are language-pair specific, in their frequency if not in their nature. For instance, when word-order differences between source- and target language are likely to force interpreters to wait until they can reformulate the relevant source speech phrase or sentence, they often start with neutral sentence beginnings rather than commit themselves or wait until the full source-speech sentence is available before they start reformulating it. In consecutive, most strategies also have a strong cognitive-load management component and are related either to note-taking and note-reading, or to target speech reformulation. Interpreting directionality (working from one’s foreign or B language into one’s native or A language, or the other way around) can also be discussed in terms of cognitive load and the tightrope hypothesis: assuming processing capacity required for comprehension and production is lower in one’s A language than in one’s B language, when conditions are such that comprehension is difficult (strange accent, poor listening conditions, etc.), it makes sense to work from one’s A language; when production is likely to be more difficult (when the speaker is fast, when it is particularly important to use elegant language, etc.), it makes sense to work into one’s A language. Under simultaneous interpreting conditions, there may also be language specific difficulties: accents and dialects may be more of a problem in Arabic, Chinese and Swedish than in French, English and Spanish, and production may be more difficult in languages with numerous embedded structures, where the content of the beginning of a sentence must be kept in working memory longer on average than in languages with fewer embedded structures, and in languages with a rigid word order, where syntactic decisions must be made early on in the sentence and may force interpreters to wait longer before making such decisions. Interpreting directionality is far less critical in consecutive, since the two languages are not simultaneously present in working memory and word order and ambiguity do not pose online problems: most of the time, consecutive interpreters can base their production decisions on far larger chunks than simultaneous interpreters (several sentences as opposed to a phrase or single sentence). This could explain the fact that many conference interpreters who refuse to work into their B language in simultaneous do accept assignments in consecutive in the same A-into-B direction. All these issues point to the essential role of working memory in interpreting. This topic has attracted much attention over the past two decades or so, the main question being whether interpreters have an especially efficient working memory which allows them to handle at the same time comprehension of the incoming source speech, production of their target speech, monitoring of their target speech, and problem-solving when difficulties arise. In her doctoral dissertation defended in 1995, Presentación Padilla found higher memory spans in interpreters than in non-interpreters. In a more recent dissertation, Minhua Liu (2001) found that the interpreters’ advantage resides not in a higher overall working memory capacity, but in more efficient processing of domain-specific operations. Christoffels (2004) also found higher memory capacity in interpreters than in other subjects. The most recent and sophisticated cognitive model of interpreting is Setton’s (1999) relevance theory and mental models theory-based construct. Setton assigns much weight to pragmatic markers which, he claims, counterbalance to a large extent the potential effects of syntactic differences between source- and target language. 7.4 Neurolinguistics The important role neurolinguistics played in the development of CIR in the early 1990s is mostly due to the partnership established in Trieste between interpreter trainers and neurolinguist Franco Fabbro. Much of the work was focused on investigating lateralization patterns in interpreters, but initial findings suggesting more balanced involvement in both hemispheres in interpreters were contradicted by ulterior results, and at this point, the evidence is inconclusive (see Pöchhacker 2004: 114). Neurophysiological indicators in the form of EEG tests, PET tests, hormone tests, skin conductance tests, pupil dilation tests, blood pressure measurement etc. were also used for other investigations, in particular as indicators for cerebral and other physiological activity in various tasks, including interpreting into A and into B, and for stress investigations. Some interdisciplinary initiatives with neurophysiology were taken by Ingrid Kurz in Vienna (see Kurz 1996), and others by Jorma Tommola in Finland and Barbara Moser-Mercer in Switzerland. However, technical and methodological problems make it difficult to use such tests widely, and as pointed out by Michel Paradis and others during discussions in various conferences, findings of brain imaging techniques such as irrigation patterns and electrical activity in different parts of the brain are difficult to interpret with respect to issues interpreters are interested in. 7.5 Quality Interpreting quality is probably the topic on which the largest amount of empirical research has been carried out so far. Starting with a survey among interpreters by Bühler in 1986, several other surveys, in particular by Ingrid Kurz, tried to determine what was the relative weight given to various aspects of interpreting quality (including content parameters, language parameters and delivery parameters) by various groups of users of their services. On the whole, user expectations tend to focus on content rather than on form, and some differences can be observed in the priorities of users from different groups. However, actual user reactions to interpreting output seem less clear cut. In particular, intonation and voice quality may be far more important than conceptual hierarchization in user expectation surveys suggests (see for instance Collados Aís et al. 2003, or Shlesinger 2004). Besides variability in quality expectations, there seems to be high variability (and low inter-rater reliability) in actual evaluations (see for example Gile in Target 7:1, Gile 1999). This may be due to variability in personal norms and preferences (see for instance Kopczynski 1994, Gile 1999), to variable inter-individual sensitivity and to attention fluctuations. In some cases, interpreters know their clients’ preferences: summarizing in some circumstances, translating as accurately as possible every phrase in the source speech, focusing on synchronicity (when interpreting for the media), etc. When such preferences are not known, the interpreters’ norm by default seems to give the highest priority to restitution of informational content, followed by clear and pleasant delivery. 8. Methodological issues Until the late 1980s, research into interpreting was mostly carried out in two very distinct ways. Interpreting practitioners proceeded mostly by introspection and intuition, and illustrated their theories with examples rather than backing them with strict hypothesis-testing. The prevailing idea was that naturalistic research was the only ecologically valid one, though interestingly, Seleskovitch’s only empirical study, carried out for her doctoral thesis (see Seleskovitch 1975), was experimental: she asked twelve interpreters to do a consecutive interpretation of two English speeches into French and looked at their notes for indicators of the process. The actual data collected in the few empirical studies carried out by interpreting practitioners who followed the same stream were mostly examples of specific words or phrases found by interpreters to render ideas expressed by specific words or phrases in the source speech, and inferences were made on that basis only. This “liberal arts paradigm”, as it was christened by Barbara Moser-Mercer (1994), is one conventional type of academic discussion, an extension of the classical philosophical and religious debate. In the case of written translation, it has a long-standing tradition and still accounts for a large number of texts in the literature. There are, however, three reasons which might explain why the way it was implemented in CIR during the Practitioners’ period generated strong opposition. Firstly, in contrast to the conventional type of procedure in the humanities, authors tended to proclaim their own ideas and ignore authors with different opinions. Strong claims were made, some of which went against what other interpreters and interpreter trainers believed was true. Some interpreters and interpreter trainers with a different mindset considered that making such claims without seeking to back them with systematic evidence was counterproductive. The most controversial point was perhaps the exclusion of language-specific issues from public debate. From the early 1980s on, interpreters who aspired to more systematic exploration of reality and testing of theories (Linda Anderson, Daniel Gile, Jennifer Mackintosh, Barbara Moser-Mercer, Catherine Stenzl and others) started to call for a different way of doing research on interpreting. Stenzl and Gile, in particular, pleaded for naturalistic studies which would provide more data on what actually happens in the field. This call is in line with a classical exploration pattern in empirical disciplines, where naturalistic studies give rise to theories, which are tested by experimental methods. Interestingly, in interpreting studies, development was different. Psychologists started out with experimental exploration right away, thus missing the opportunity to gather data which might have helped prevent some methodological weaknesses, while interpreting practitioners chose an introspection-based prescriptive path. These choices are understandable: psychologists had already developed theories and tried to apply them to and to test them through interpreting, while interpreters had the feeling they knew their trade inside out and did not see the need to test their knowledge step by step in a slow process. Moreover, they correctly identified ecological validity issues in the psychologists’ work, and apparently did not see how to bridge the gap. As aspiration to more scientific exploration of interpreting gained influence, investigation of interpreting in the interpreters’ community divided into two streams. One was the liberal arts paradigm, and the other, which seems to have become the prevailing approach, is what Moser-Mercer calls the “natural science paradigm”, and corresponds to what is traditionally known as the “scientific approach” or “scientific method”. This second stream can also be divided in two sub-streams. The first implements the more traditional experimentalist approach, generally with specific hypotheses, classical experimental designs and inferential statistics as the decision-making tool. This is the line followed by researchers from the cognitive sciences, such as Fabbro, Lambert, Liu (2001) and, most recently, Christoffels (2004). However, in the CIR environment, this type of research encounters serious obstacles, the two most important ones being the following: 1. Variables that exert strong influence on interpreting output are numerous. They include the source language, the target language, the spontaneous, semi-spontaneous, or prepared nature of the speech, delivery speed, the speaker’s intonation, the speaker’s accent, the logic of the speech, information density of the speech, syntactic structures in the speech, including the length of sentences and the number of embedded structures, the quality of the sound reaching the interpreter, the interpreter’s knowledge of the subject matter, experience, training, mental and physical state, motivation, visibility of the speaker from the booth, the number of delegates who listen to interpreting, the interpreter’s relations with other colleagues in the team, etc. This results in much variability (highlighted in particular in Lamberger-Felber 1998), hence the need for large samples and many replications of experiments before findings can be considered robust. 2. Only a few hundred interpreters at most are concentrated in interpreting centers such as Brussels, Paris, London and Tokyo, only a fraction of these are willing to serve as subjects for experiments, and only a fraction of potential volunteers have the required language combination, experience, specific type of training and working languages required for a given experiment or set of experiments. In practical terms, it is therefore very difficult to find enough subjects for experimental studies to cover all the experimental conditions being investigated in a sufficient number of specific constellations of values of relevant parameters. As a result, few studies fulfilling the standard requirements of experimental research have been carried out so far, and the pool of confirmed findings of such studies is still very small. When replications are carried out, findings are often contradictory (see for example Christoffels’ data on recall as opposed to Gerver’s or Lambert’s in Christoffels 2004). The second stream of research in the “natural sciences paradigm” is compatible with the same fundamental principles, but does not seek the same level of precision. Rather, it conducts naturalistic research and experimental research with generally simple design and mostly less sensitive/accurate tools. Typically, studies in this category involve interpreting of authentic or quasi-authentic speeches at different delivery speeds, with or without prior preparation, with or without particular accents, with or without body language, interpreting the same speech in simultaneous and consecutive and comparing the two, interpreting the same speech into different languages and comparing strategies, etc. Typically, assessment of the output is based on examination of errors and omissions, strategies, retrospective comments, etc., and no inferential statistics are used. This approach possibly represents the best compromise in the conference interpreting environment in its present state: 1. It is a way of increasing substantially the volume of empirical studies in CIR: such studies can be carried out without much training and skills in sophisticated experimental design and without much manipulation, and are therefore within the reach of motivated interpreter trainers and graduating students. Moreover, without inferential statistics, they can be conducted as small scale studies (no minimum sample size is required) and replicated often (see the methodological discussion in Gile 1999). 2. Ecological validity is better in such studies than in experimental setups involving control of every feature of the source speech and where recall tasks, articular suppression, the presence of physical devices such as electrodes or chin rests and other extraneous factors may interfere with the process and/or the interpreter’s output. 3. The lesser precision of the tools used is not necessarily a problem, due to high variability in interpreting. Significant but small differences found on small samples without replications and under uncertain ecological validity may be less relevant to the interpreting community than differences large enough to be detected with blunt tools in ecologically more valid experiments, which can be replicated more easily. In other cases, modern technology and the nature of the phenomena being studied do make it possible to be very precise while maintaining ecological validity. For instance, it is now possible to measure the interpreter’s lag behind the speaker, or compare the speaker’s and interpreter’s pauses, or analyze prosody very accurately with inexpensive sound processing software, and these possibilities are being leveraged by interpreting researchers (see for instance Mead 2002, Ahrens 2004). Over the past decade or so, many empirical studies based on good ideas were published by interpreter trainers and graduating students. The status of their findings, however, is often uncertain, due to severe methodological flaws (shared by authors of research into written translation - see for example Gile and Hansen 2004). These reside more in the rationale than in the implementation of research techniques, and include designs which do not take into account confounding variables, unsubstantiated claims, incorrect inferences, comparison of non comparable entities, invalid indicators, overgeneralization, etc. Interestingly, such flaws are found not only in studies by graduating students, but also in the work of highly motivated, thorough interpreters who have acquired considerable theoretical knowledge. Their root cause is most probably the fact that they were never trained in empirical research methods and never acquired the norms of rigorous rationale which are an essential part thereof. There is also some tension between proponents of the more scientific approach, who have claimed that followers of the liberal arts paradigm are not rigorous enough and make many unsubstantiated claims, and the latter, who accuse the former of empiricism and of neglecting theory (see for example Pöchhacker’s criticism and Gile’s response in Schäffner 2004). 9. Interdisciplinarity Linguistic aspects of interpreting and attention-sharing phenomena clearly call for interdisciplinarity with linguistics and cognitive psychology in research into conference interpreting (Gran and Dodds 1989; Kurz 1996), and other fields such as sociology, law and communication theory are clearly important in the study of community interpreting, court interpreting and interpreting for the media. After the Practitioner’s period, conference interpreting researchers turned to cognitive science, and many authors have massively used theoretical concepts from linguistics and cognitive science, in particular Kurz, Moser-Mercer, Padilla, Setton and Liu. Authors from cognate disciplines have not reciprocated and do not use concepts and theories from CIR. This can be partly explained by gaps between the respective foci of the two communities. Even when they write about conference interpreting, some mistake it for simultaneous interpreting, some assert that consecutive interpreting requires special long-term memory skills whereas authors in the literature explain their view that this is not the case, some make assumptions about the history of the interpreters’ bilingualism without regard to studies in which interpreters provide relevant data about the issue. These few examples can be taken as an indicator of their lack of regard for the CIR literature. This may be due to the fact that most CIR publications fail to meet their standards, as suggested by a statement by Gran and Fabbro to that effect in Gambier et al. (1997, p. 19). Most of their publications remain within the paradigms, theories and bibliographical references of their own disciplines, and only a few refer to more than a token sample of CIR publications. Besides methodological issues, this asymmetry is probably due to the lower sociological status of interpreting research. Most of the successful cooperative ventures between interpreters and researchers from cognate disciplines were carried out within cognate disciplines with respect to both the methods and research questions (in particular working memory issues and neurolinguistic issues), and promoters of interdisciplinarity such as Gile, Pöchhacker and Shlesinger have recently expressed disappointment with the results so far. The effective evolution of interdisciplinarity is still an open issue. The future The future of conference interpreting is uncertain. In the world of science and technology, an increasing number of delegates now use English and do without interpreting services. Even in international organizations, there is an increasing tendency to hold meetings in English. In future years, the conference interpreting market may stagnate, or even shrink, and migration from CIR toward research into other forms of interpreting may occur. This may result in some loss with respect to research on the specific features of conference interpreting and conference interpreters, but may also be associated with some gain, in particular as regards psycho-sociological aspects of interpreting (see for example Schäffner 2004). References Ahrens, B. 2004. “Non-verbal phenomena in simultaneous interpreting: Causes and functions.” In Hansen et al. 227-237. Baigorri-Jalón, J. 2000. La interpretación de conferencias: el nacimiento de une profesión. De París a Nuremberg. 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