Day 16 Don’t you ever make mistakes?

Do you remember the list of 30 days? I’m only through half of it, and it’s well over a month, but since I designed it to cover topics that I wanted to share with my readers – here we go. I will continue down the list as soon as I have an opportunity to do so.
And to answer the question in the headline: Of course I do! It has almost become my mantra “interpreters make mistakes”, and I also treat it in a blog post here.
The question is not whether you make mistakes or not, it’s about how you deal with mistakes. Take a court or medical interpreter for instance – if you are unsure, or spot a mistake you may have made it is your duty to report it to the parties immediately. It is your absolute responsibility that you get everything right. Your domain knowledge as a court or medical is extremely important since you have less opportunity to prepare (i.e. you can get called in with just an hour or less of warning).
I don’t mean to say that your responsibility is less when you work in a booth, or at a conference. But usually you have more time to prepare AND you have colleagues that are usually willing to help you. This means that mistakes usually are spotted and corrected fairly quickly. If terminology went wrong, the correct term will probably follow in the next sentence (a colleague wrote a note), or if a line of reasoning was misunderstood it will most surely be sorted out. How does the interpreter indicate whether it’s the speaker or the interpreter who corrects him or herself in simultaneous? Well, if it’s the speaker you’ll hear “the speaker corrects him/herself” and if it’s the interpreter “the interpreter means X or Y”.
The situation I personally like the least is in court where my language knowledge has been challenged several times just as a trick (often) from the “other” party’s lawyer, in order to discredit the counter party through the interpreter. I have had to correct myself in court too, but luckily it has not happened on the same occasions where I have been challenged. I cannot imagine the courage you would have to show in order to first defend your word choice and then stop the proceedings in order to correct yourself.
I have written earlier about my embarrassing mistake when interpreting the word piracy, in this case it was easily corrected by saying “the interpreter excuses herself in this case it should be XXX.” It is also fair to say that even if I hadn’t spotted and corrected the mistake it would hardly had been the end of the world. But I cannot stress enough how these incidents can really be dangerous. It can be absolutely crucial for an individual, but also for states as I wrote about in this post.
So, as said above, the question is not whether you make mistakes or not. The question is how you deal with it. The worst thing you can do is to not be attentive, or not care about your mistakes. A good interpreter knows about damage control. A careless, or maybe inexperienced interpreter, does not care about correcting mistakes or worse, does not admit to or realise a mistake was made.

This post is part of a list, 30 days of interpreting. You can view the whole list here.


So what have I been up to

I realize I’ve been very silent the past couple of weeks. I don’t lack ideas, just time. Here’s a short overview of what I’ve been up to. I will try to get back on track on the blog as well.

First of all, I’ve finished my Interpreting Theory course at the University of Bergen. My studetnts have completed their compulsory work and are now doing their exam paper. I had some really interesting term papers and I’m looking forward to reading the exam papers. Way to go! You’re doing a great job guys, I’m so proud of you!

I gave my second and last class on terminology for the conference interpreting students at TöI in Stockholm. There too I was happy to see that students are serious about what they do.

Second, I was part of the organizing committee for the Text-Process-Text conference in Stockholm. The conference topic was process research in interpreting and translation studies and it was a huge success. At the conference we also officially handed over this volume to Birgitta Englund Dimitrova for her birthday.

Directly after that conference I co-organised AIIC Nordic countries’ regional meeting. We were very happy that Miriam Shlesinger agreed to stay for our regional meeting, she gave a talk that was very appreciated by the interpreters present. Personally, I think I have to make a mental note that it can be very burdensome to organize two conferences one after the other even if you are only a co-organizer.

I have also had the opportunity to interpret a few days and also meet The Interpreter Diaries IRL.

So now you know a little about what I’ve been up to during my silence. What have you been up to during November? For interpreters and teachers, one of the busiest months!

Interpret everything – or not…

Mary from AIB Interpreters guest blogged at The Interpreter Diaries about Franz Pöchhackers presentation at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. A line in her post inspired me to write about what it is to interpret everything.

a relative interpreting for a patient and leaving things out is not altogether unrelated to the situation in which an intended off-mic utterance by a politician is not interpreted even thoug the mic is actually on.

In most guidelines or professional codes for interpreters, there is a paragraph or article on interpreting “everything”. In the Swedish one‘s it says: Under tolkningen skall en auktoriserad tolk återge all information så exakt som möjligt (a certified interpreter shall, when interpreting, render all information as exactly as possible), and in the Norwegian one: Tolken skal tolke innholdet i alt som sies, intet fortie, intet tillegge, intet endre. (the interpreter shall interpret the content of everything that is said, conceal nothing, add nothing, change nothing).

In her Sense Theory, Dancia Seleskovitch says roughly that the interpreter grasps the sense beyond words in one lanugage and clads that sense in the words or the other lanugage. Thereby she elegantly tackles both the problem of word-for-word translation and also what exactly “everything” is. But “everything” is so much more than just the meaning or the sense of the utterance. If you take “everything” beyond utterances that are directed to the interlocutors, for instance.

There is of course no answer to the question “what is everything?” and “should you interpret everything?”. But there are a few interesting reflections one can make. Firstly – when conference interpreting, do you interpret everything you hear through the microphone even if the comments were not made to the audience. Everyone who understands the language in question will also understand that private comment, is it therefore my duty to interpret that in order to put all the listeners on equal footing? Or should I understand it as private an not interpret it?

In a social setting, let’s say a medical appointment, the doctor’s telephone rings or a nurse enters the room. Should you interpret what you can hear of the telephone conversation or the exchange between the nurse and the doctor? A person with the same language as the doctor would have understood it. It’s not polite to eavesdrop of course, but fairly impossible not to hear if you’re sitting right next to a person engaged in another conversation.

Another thing about “everything” is innuendos or what you read between the lines. Sometimes interpreters and translators “explicitate” to explain something to their readers or listeners that isn’t immediately understandable from the interpretation or the translated text, but which was understandable for native speakers of the source language. But how much should you explicitate? Are you sure you read correctly between the lines? Would the speaker prefer it not to be spelled out directly?

Do you interpret “everything” and how much do you explicitate?

More about Sense Theory (Interpretive Theory) from Routledge’s Encyclopedia of Translation Studies here.
And more about Explicitation also from Routledge here.

Interpreters make mistakes

Kovács and Kováts have a blogpost on an interpreter making a mistake in the European Parliament Plenary session. Painful of course and possibly not very professional (I say possibly, because I don’t know the reasons behind it).

Many things influence interpreting quality, technology (sound quality, other technology, the speaker and the speaker’s delivery, and of course the interpreters proficiency, language knowledge, health and so forth). Still, needless to say interpreters make mistakes. One of the more infamous mistakes were made by the Japanese-English interpreter in the negotiations between President Nixon and Primeminister Sato in the textile conflict in 1970. Sato apparently replied to Nixon’s demand by saying in Japanese “Senshu Itasimashu”, literally meaning “I will do my best”, but with the more figurative meaning “I will look into it”. What the interpreter actually said is apparently not known, but Nixon went hope believing that he had a promise from Sato and when things didn’t happen as expected, Nixon got extremely upset and it sent Japan out in the cold for years to come.

As one of the bloggers in the meeting with the Hungarian Presidency said: “Interpreting is stressful because so much can be at stake”. Your interpreting may be the reason for somebody believing that he or she is dying when in fact it’s only a routine examination. Your interpreting may be the reason for deep misunderstandings between heads of states.

On the other hand it is also stressful because people used to interpreting will use the interpreter as a good excuse for not upsetting the counter party. If the other party’s reaction showed that he or she did not appreciate your comment you will immediately rephrase and add “I’m sure the interpretation got it wrong” – very handy excuse which most interperters will faithfully translate without comment.

But what can you do as a speaker to avoid mistakes?

1) Use your mother tongue more, i.e use interpreters more: If there is a constant demand for interpreting to and from a certain language the interpreters will get very skilled and more skilled people will train to become interpreters. On top of that you are probably a better speaker in your mother tongue.

2) Provide the interpreters with plenty of documentation and briefings: Rule of thumb: the more prepared the interpreter, the better the interpretation.

3) Pay your interpreters: Just as for any service or product, you pay for quality.

4) Demand trained interperters with good credentials: Interpreting is not something language students do for fun. Most professional interpreters have degrees or have passed certification or ackreditation tests. If an interpreter cannot show such professional credentials chances are you’re not dealing with a professional interpreters.

5) Complain: If you have done all the above and you are still not satisfied – complain. If you complain you have a chance to improve the interpreters preformance or understand the reason for why it did not work as expected.

And what do the interpreters do to avoid mistakes?

1) We prepare: Interpreters spend a lot of time preparing, reading up on back ground information, keeping generally informed, making word lists and so forth.

2) We help each other: At least if we are working in a team (unfortunately not very often for court, medical or social interpreters), colleagues help each other with terminology, figures and misunderstandings.

3) We are always honest with our mistakes: If we discover that we have made a mistake it is our duty to inform our customers. In simultaneous interpretation you will hear either “sorry, it should be…” or “the interpreters corrects…”. In court or social it is easier to interrupt and explain that a mistake was made.

4) We don’t take assignments that we are not trained for: In the interpreting Code of Ethichs it is very clearly stated that we should not accept an assignment that we are not trained for either linguistically or thematically. Of course we do not have to be trained lawyers to do court interpreting, but without basic knowledge of court we should not accept court interpreting for instance. The European Union spend much effort to train their interpreters in EU-matters.

Of course interpreters still make mistakes, but the lesson to be learned is to be attentive to it, and immediately correct it.

Research on interpreting quality: interdisciplinary perspectives

This is a short summary of a round table discussion held at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary is my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

The Round table participants were

Teresa Bajo Molina (Experimental psychology), Universidad de Granada, España
Jorge Bolaños Carmona (Statistics), Universidad de Granada, España
Emilio Delgado López-Cózar (Research assessment), Universidad de Granada, España
Daniel Gile, Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
Heike Lamberger-Felber (Coord.), Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Österreich

In this session interpreting was provided so discussions were allowed to flow seamlessly between English and Spanish.

Heike Lamberger-Felber moderated this discussion and started by letting the participants outside Interpreting Studies introduce themselves.

Teresa Bajo Molina (BM) is a cognitive psychologist. Her first contact with Interpreting Studies was when she supervised Presentacion Padilla Benítez’s PhD. She is interested in interpreting because it gives a window in to researching how you’re pushing the cognitive system to the limit.

Jorge Bolaños Carmona (BC) statistician is above all interested in helping to create statistical rigour.

Emilio Delgado López-Cózar (DLC) works on the assessment of research but also on methodology for research.

BM: Stresses that the most important lesson from cognitive psychology is the fact that there is a limit for the cognitive resources and that when it comes to interpreting that picture is very clear. Challenges are similar in Cognitive Psychology and Interpreting Studies since you are studying something that is not immediately perceivable. In order to push Interpreting Studies further there is a need solid hypotheses.

Moderator: What about training in research methodology? Generally in Interpreting Studies there is not much such training around.

BM: In cognitive psychology we spend a lot of time on that, about one term of PhD training is devoted to research methodology.

Moderator: And what about strengths and weaknesses in Interpreting Studies?

BM: I try to stay up to date on publications in Interpreting Studies and I see a lot of good things but also weaknesses. Good questions are being asked, but it is also a very heterogeneous field, very fragmented and I have a problem finding a strong base. Many studies are exploratory and control is missing. I have the feeling that you give up on controlling variables with the ambition to make the experiment closer to the actual object you study. But if you give up control then you cannot draw valid conclusions.

Moderator: How reliable are statistical tools if they are used by untrained researchers in a simplistic design?

BC: Seen from a statistical point of view we can make enormous mistakes in that context, and it’s even worse if there is a poor design. A poor design can destroy years of work. If you want to collect qualitative data you need to consult with experts. You can of course also ask for help from a statistician if you already have collected a quantitative material, but typically they would want something in return of course, such as publication in important publications, effect in academia and so forth.

Here I (blog author) have to add a very personal comment – the fact that Interpreting and Translation journals usually have low ranking scores (for reasons not related to their academic quality but to the fact that there is a small discipline, often not represented in ranking bodies) is an ENORMOUS disadvantage for our discipline.

But back to BC: More cooperation between interpreting resarchers and statisticians is however good and necessary. A word of warning; when asking IT-experts for help to design a web based study, do check that they have sufficient knowledge in statistics. Finally it is important to first know WHAT questions you attempt to answer and THEN look for the proper method and statistical design.

Moderator: We often have a problem with the great variability in our data, many things influence our object of study. How does that affect our aim to do inferential tests?

BC: There are two important variables – those we want to study and those we don’t want to study. The ones we don’t want to study must be eliminated. This is also true for instance for sociological studies where many variables interact and interfere. The conditions of the analysis have to be absolutely right.

Moderator: Is there any use of making inferential statistics on small data? This is another reality in interpreting studies that we often deal with small data.

BC: Of course we can use small data, but only with the right number of repetitions. Often in interpreting you have small data, but you count, for instance, the total occurrence of something e.g. errors. Say you analyse the work of 5 interpreters, you will get a large number of date from the repetition of each individual. So it is rather a question of a small SAMPLE that can still generate a large amount of DATA.

If it’s clear that something is different, why use statistics? Because small variation could affect your data in ways that you did not necessarily expect.

Moderator: Research assessment has also become a field of study and Emilio Delgado López-Cózar will present that.

DLC: In order to evaluate research we use quantitative methods such as bibliometrics, rankings, impact indexes. All these measures are important for people working with research policy. Quantitative outcome of research is measured through publications. Qualitative data consists of for instance peer-review. Research assessment can be done ex ante e.g. when you apply for funding for research or ex post when you assess the results of a project.

Moderator: And what about key terms that often obsess people, such as citation index and impact factor.

DLC: Citations in humanities are delicate. You have to be cautious because of the size of different fields. If there are not many researchers in a filed you have no critical mass and then the number of citations is lower.

Moderator: How do you assess field that you do not know well?

DLC: Bibliometrics is our mirror and we need to look in that mirror. When assessing a field you look at PhDs, publications, journals, research projects, conferences and so forth. You also make a content analysis; the reflection of actual problems, evaluation of tools, methodology, technique and so forth.

Again I as blog author would like to stress the comment I did above on journal ranking in translation studies.

Moderator: I would like to hear from Daniel Gile what you would expect from multidisciplinary in Interpreting research.

DG: About multidisciplinary approach in interpreting studies, we have seen the advantages and challenges of multidisciplinary in this round table. If we want to study the nature of interpreting, cognitive psychology, linguistics and communication are important areas. But it is important not to loose the characteristic features of interpreting out of sight. You cannot, for instance, control away variables to the extent that you loose your sample. Our weakness in Interpreting Studies is that we look up to methods developed in another field and swallow them without a critical eye. What we need is help to understand the CONCEPTS of issues in cognitive disciplines in order to be able to adapt those concepts to Interpreting Studies.

Question from the audience (Franz Pöchhacker): What about other research designs such as surveys and web-based surveys?

General answer from the panel: Surveys as method is a good and easy accessible method, but you have to understand their limitation, such as controlling who is answering and that each respondent only answers once and so forth. The important issue for any research design is that the design is rigorous. If the design and method is good then also exploratory studies are fine.

Moderator: And what would it take for you as researches from other studies to enter into a specific project in interpreting studies?

BM: I am already involved in interpreting projects but you have to understand that it involves making sacrifices.

BC: I would look for a project with the possibility to create something that others doesn’t have already. However it is difficult for researchers in the beginning of their career, who are building their CV to engage in fields that do not give immediate bibliometric feed back.

On this note the panel ended its discussions. Again I think it very well sums up our problem. I would also like to point out that the panel did not touch upon mixed method design and had no representative from sociological research (or other areas working with qualitative methods). Neither was neuroscience or phonetics/phonology mentionned. Although I realise the time was very limited, I would have appreciated that aspect as well when it comes to multidisciplinary.

I also found both professor Bajo Molina’s and professor Gile’s comments on the field very interesting. Professor BM talked about a fragmented field where it’s difficult to find a strong base. Professor Gile talked about not uncritically swallowing methods from other fields. Although the trend today is towards multidisciplinary I believe that Interpreting Studies should work more on the centripedal power rather than the centrifugal power. Interpreting Studies are multidisciplinary per se and will gain more on working on that common solid ground than on stressing differences.

Konstantina Liontou – anticipation

This is a short summary of a presentation given at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary is my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

Konstantina Liontou, (University of Vienna) presented the results from a study on anticipation. According to Jörg Anticipation is prediction and interpretation of source text units before their actual utterance. Kirchoff claimed that experienced interpreters are seldom wrong about their expectations and that when errors are discovered they are corrected. The impact of erroneous anticipation is less sense consistency with the original. When Jörg tested this only 2,24% cases were found with erroneous anticipation.

The language pair German-Greek is an interesting study object in this respect since it presents several syntactic differences that create challenges for the interpreters. Challenges comprises verb position, position of negation particles

Liontou’s corpus consists of German and Austrian MEPs during the Parliamentary session. The topic was environment and the period from April 2006 to December 2008. The number of speeches was125. This yielded 2 x 5,5 hours of speech and interpreting and possibly involved16 interpreters.

The biggest challenge for Liontou when analysing the mateiral turned out to be how to you define erroneous anticipation contrasted with more general anticipation.

Liontou reached higher levels of erroneous anticipation than for instance Jörg did. When polishing away all the unclear cases she arrived at just over 8 % of clear cases compared to Jörg’s 2.24 %.

Despite the slightly higher level of erroneous anticipation it still represents very low levels and Liontou findings support Kirchhoff’s claim. An important finding that none of the errors detected were contre sense.

Panel – Quality in the interpreter’s profession and training

This is a short summary of a round table discussion held at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary is my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

Participants in the round table discussion were:

Susanne Altenberg, DG for Interpretation and Conferences, European Parliament
Jesús Baigorri Jalón, Universidad de Salamanca, España
Ann D’haen-Bertier, DG Interpretation (SCIC), European Commission
Ingrid Kurz, Universität Wien, Österreich | Research Committee of AIIC
Heike Lamberger-Felber (Coord.), Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz, Österreich
Franz Pöchhacker, Universität Wien, Österreich
Robin Setton, Shanghai International Studies University, China | Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle, France

Moderator Heike Lamberger-Felber kicked off the discussion by asking about the professional practice. The factors that influcence interperting quality, how have they changed over the years. How does UN, EU and OECD intepreters perceive external factors that influence their interpreting today.

Jesus Baigorri Jalón said that in order to answer truthfully to this question he did a survey among his former UN colleagues and the reality as perceived by interpreters today when they are rendering a speech is that they are speaking more UNese, they are often flooded in acronyms and they daily deal with many non-native language varieties. Today they also see new actors in the meetings that are unfamiliar with interpreters’ needs and who often lack training of communication skills. Other challenges today comprise new information technologies, read speeches and increasing speed.

Robin Settion hedged with the question: are things really getting harder or are our views changing? He reported that interpreters at OECD struggle with the same problems viz. read texts, increased density, lack of documentation and non-native accents. He also said that a particular challenge for free lancers were not enough exposure to the current situation. He advocated a working practice to improve the situation. First try to avoid problems by getting as much information as possible (from speakers, users, clients and so forth) and of course by preparing duly. But when the problem strikes, you have to learn to adapt to the situation by applying different strategies (norms, judgement, priorities, coping) and we should learn respond it according to the required stimuli.

Heike Lamberger-Felber summarized Susanne Altenbergs comments since Susanne unfortunately had fallen ill. But she reported that at the European Parliament the meetings are being web streamed which means a redefinition of the expectation of the interpreter. Interpreting becomes more public and therefore interpreting quality and pressure on interpreters increase. European Parliament works on issues such as for what purpose does the quality need to be produced and does quality meet costumer satisfaction.

Anne D’haen-Bertier stressed that the focus on quality is justified when you think about the fact that in a meeting in Commission or Council with full language regime 66 interpreters works to and from 22 languages and the quality of the interpretation is only as good as the weakest link. Interpreters’ quality is being monitored regularly by SCIC both individual interpreters’ performance and the technical aspects on quality. Commission who is also responsible for the interpretation at the European Council, CoR and EcoSoc has 120 000 interpreting days per year.

Ingrid Kurz as member of the AIIC research committee represented AIIC and presented the organisation’s admission rules (briefly 150 days of interpreting practice, sponsoring from three members who has been members for three years and has worked with the colleague in that language combination). She said that the admissions procedure was developed as an insurance for aiic members’ professionalism. She said that the work to ensure quality went via: 1) self imposed requirements (cf. aiic rules), 2) technical requirements, and
3) measurements of service performed by asking the users.

Anne D’haen-Bertier added on that topic that SCIC does regular customer satisfactory surveys. Clients are asked for their satisfaction on different indicators such as presentation, language and so forth. Clients are satisfied up to 80 and 90 percent depending on the indicator, and the lowest score was correct terminology with 75 %, interestingly enough the lowest figure for terminology satisfaction was given by non-native speakers of English listening to the English booth.

Franz Pöchhacker representetd the public service interpreting field and said that when it comes to quality in community settings expectations are fairly clear but a problems lie in the focus on quality in conference interpreting. There are no big institutional employers that have a natural reason to focus on the quality in the community interpreting. The European institutions should be a more active actor here. Another major driving force for the low quality is the ridiculously low pay (for instance 12 euros in Spain) and low incentive to get training, professionalization and so forth. Not a level playing field when it comes to quality in interpreting.

Anne D’haen-Bertier responded that Commission was involved in setting standards for legal interpreting. They participate in a forum that focused on setting standards for training, certification and registration. Then Anne D’haen-Bertier went on to discuss the problem with the fact that students are usually not at the level to pass the accreditation test of the European Instiutions when they finish interpreting school. There are many valid reasons for this, one being that the fact that the student has to be operational the day after accreditation make the tests have extremely high standard. SCIC tries to tackle this with introduction programmes, key training schemes and so forth.

In the comments from the audience a representative from the sign language interpreting community invited the participants to a closer co-operation on accreditation (since several countries have accreditation tests instead of sponsoring) and possibly also training.

Claudio Bendazzoli – Interpreters’ use of ‘SO’

This is a short summary of a presentation given at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary is my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

Claudio Bendazzoli (University of Trieste, Italy) presented material from his English/Italian simultaneous interpreting corpus of 136 000 words, the DIRSI corpus (Directionality in Simultaneous interpreting). It has four subcorpora of more and less the same size and has both source and target speeches from international medical conferences, four interpreters with Italian mother tongue (A) and one interpreter with UK-english mother tongue. It was developed in co-operation with Laboratoria de Linguistica Informatica UAM.

Claudio Bendazzoli said that a lot of research in interpreting quality focus on bad quality rather than focusing on good quality. The results he reported on would focus on good quality. He chose to look at the ‘SO’ in the interpreted speech and it’s correspondence in the original. Bendazzoli chose ‘SO’ since it has multiple meanings and functions.

He concluded that almost 80 percent of the “SO” used in interpreted speech was an addition. i.e. not present in source speech. But he also said that the addition of ‘SO’ not necessarily led to a deterioration in quality. On the contrary he said and quoted Gile from 2003 additions can also be considered an improvement.

Emilia Iglesias Fernández – Speaker’s articualtion rate

This is a short summary of a presentation given at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary is my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

Emilia Iglesias Fernández (University of Granada, Spain) presented a study on the speaker’s articulation rate and it’s effect on interpreting diffculty. A fast speech rate is an indicator of difficult and early estimations said that a comfortable speed was around 95-120 words per minute. However mean speech rate in the European Parliament is about 160 words per minute according to Manuel (2006) among others. The perception of temp is personal because many other features are important not only speed, speaker*s style for instance. This is also what Pöchhacker argued in 1994 when he said that a text delivery profile was necessary.

The study was a phonetic analysis including speech rate, pauses, articulation range and pitch range. She wanted to explore whether there was a possibility that fast listener oriented speeches were more interpreter friendly than slow message oriented speeches. She could conclude that the pitch is more varied in the fast listener oriented speeches and that the pauses are different in distribution and character.

Macarena Pradas Macias – Pauses and quality

This is a short summary of a presentation given at the Second International Conference on Quality in Interpreting, in Almuñecar, Spain 2010. The summary my own perception of the presentation and any mistakes in the summary are of course due to my misunderstanding.

Macarena Pradas Macias (University of Granada, Spain) talked about how pauses are possibly a common denominator of fluency and logical cohesion in simultaneous interpreting. She says that interpreting users seem to develop a special sensitivity to the interpreting form and its relation to content, so users concept of fluency is associated to both a form-based and content-based contents.

Why is pauses considered to be so important in user expectations when it is not reflected in the users’ evaluation of the interpreting afterwards?

In the experiment raters rated different quality related features on a 5 point scale.

In her analysis of the material Macarena addressed the question whether increased presence of silent pauses in the speech give worse scores when evaluating SI. She found correlation to this so she concluded (as I hinted in the beginning :-)): silent pauses are possibly common denominator of fluency and logical cohesion as contributors to guarantee both.