An empirical study of explicitation patterns in consecutive interpreting : a comparison between professional and novice interpreters

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An empirical study of explicitation patterns in consecutive interpreting : a comparison between professional and novice interpreters


Author: Tang, Fang
Title: An empirical study of explicitation patterns in consecutive interpreting : a comparison between professional and novice interpreters
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2014
Subject: Translating and interpreting
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Chinese and Bilingual Studies
Pages: xvii, 591 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the explicitation patterns between professional and novice interpreters in consecutive interpreting (CI). Although explicitation has been studied as a Translation Universal through corpus-based translation studies several times, its features in interpreting, especially in CI, have only been mildly touched upon. Given the obvious differences between translation and interpreting, it is worthwhile exploring whether explicitation in interpreting has any distinct features in terms of forms and causes. Previous researches show divergence in the relationship between translation expertise and explicitation features. Levy assumes that explicitation often occurs in average and bad translations (1965: 78). Blum-Kulka suggests that the less experience the translator has, the more his or her process of interpretation of the source language (SL) might be reflected in the target language (TL) (1986/2004: 301). Yet Englund-Dimitrova's experiment shows that it is professional translators who tend to explicitate, whereas novices tend not to (2003: 30). But so far there is no mention of the impact of professional expertise on explicitations in interpreting. The present study aims to fill the gap and discover how expertise influences interpreters' explicitation patterns through a comparative study between professional and novice interpreters. From the very beginning of interpreting research, interpreting from B to A language ("passive" interpreting) has been recognized as the only acceptable working direction (Bros-Brann 1976; Donovan 2003; AIIC 1991; Herbert 1952; Seleskovitch 1978 & 1984; Seleskovitch & Lederer 1989; Jones 1998/2008; Dejean Le Feal 2005, etc.). Yet, an increasing number of scholars and practitioners began to emphasize the necessity and importance of interpreting from A language to B language ("retour" interpreting) (Denissenko 1989; Martin 2005; Seel 2005). Ever since then, much discussion has centered on the issue of interpreting directionality. Do interpreters' working directions change their ways of making explicitations? Gumul (2006a) has detected significant differences in simultaneous interpreting (SI) between English and Polish, but there is no research on how explicitation patterns change with the interpreting directions (from Chinese to English [C-E] and from English to Chinese [E-C]). This is another key research question to be answered in the present study. In order to answer the above questions, 12 professionals and 12 novices were invited to do CI in a controlled working environment where they were recorded performing E-C and C-E consecutive interpreting (CI) for two seven-minute speeches followed by stimulated retrospection right after the task. The recordings were transcribed. The analysis section took into account not only the subjects' interpretation, but also their retrospection, the researcher's interview with them and interpreters' interpreting notes, to ensure there was a triangulation testing. A typology framework and an explanatory framework have both been established to explore the forms and the motivations of explicitation. The typology framework is based on Halliday's systemic functional grammar. With quantitative analysis on the frequency of each form of explicitation and qualitative analysis on the motivation of each case, differences in explicitation patterns between Professional and novice interpreters have been detected. Generally speaking, in both language directions (C-E and E-C): 1) professional interpreters made significantly more explicitations than novice interpreters, especially explicitations for clarification. This demonstrates "a tendency of clarification" The more experienced the interpreter, the more s/he tends to clarify the implied information to optimize listeners' processing; 2) more additions of inferrable modifiers and circumstantial adjuncts can be found in the professional group, which indicates "a tendency of adding frame-based knowledge" The more experienced the interpreter, the more relevant frames s/he has accumulated and the quicker s/he can associate the heard information with other messages in his/her established frames; 3) more additions of conjunctive adjuncts for clarifying were identified in the professional group, which suggests "a tendency of cohesion enhancement" The more experienced the interpreter, the more s/he is able to perceive the inter-clausal relationships and the more s/he tends to add conjunctive adjuncts to reveal them; 4) more additions of intensifiers to reinforce speakers' attitude have been found in the professional group, which reflects "a tendency of intensifying" The more experienced the interpreter, the more s/he tends to intensify the implied attitude of the speakers; 5) more explicitated information was found in professional interpreters' notes, which reveals "a tendency of deverbalizing" The more experienced the interpreter, the quicker s/he can deverbalize the information s/he hears; 6) more explicitations for time-management and gap-filling can be observed in the novice group, which verifies "a tendency of using explicitations as strategies to make up for inadequate interpreting competency" The less experienced the interpreter, the more s/he is prone to use explicitations as ways to compensate their unsatisfactory performance.
Language directions can affect interpreters' explicitation patterns from the following respects: 1) Interpreters tend to explicitate the original information through paraphrasing in C-E CI whereas they do so through addition in E-C CI. Therefore, a "Principle of Substitution" while interpreters are interpreting from A to B language and a "Principle of Addition" while they are interpreting from B to A language can be concluded. 2) The difficulties that interpreters encounter can be located by explicitations for time-management and gap-filling. Statistics show more modifier additions and more participant-based substitutions (see Section 3.3) for time-management in C-E CI and more circumstantial adjunct additions and more process-based substitutions (see Section 3.3) for gap-filling in E-C CI. This validates that the difficulties interpreters encounter while interpreting from A to B language are mainly participant-based information whereas while interpreting from B to A language are mainly process-based information. 3) There are significantly less attitude-related additions and substitutions for attitude reinforcement that can be observed in E-C CI. This verifies that while interpreting from A to B language, interpreters show greater extent of subjectivity. 4) More explicitated information can be related by the symbols or layout in interpreters' notes in C-E CI and there is less misinterpretation of notes in C-E CI, which confirms that while interpreting from A to B language, presumably due to the better understanding of the original, the notes interpreters take down are more understandable and explicitation-driven. The present study not only validated but also quantified the differences of explicitation patterns between professional and novice interpreters as well as between interpreting from A to B language and vice versa. The established theoretical frameworks (including the typology and explanatory frameworks) and the multi-channel way of data collection may also provide methodological support for further studies on explicitations or other shifts occurring in the process of interpreting. The small sample size, limited length of source materials, the inherent incompleteness of interpreters' retrospection and the less satisfactory ecological validity in the data collection section all limit the impact of findings in this particular study. If the above limits can be solved in future studies, it will be interesting to explore other aspects of explicitations, such as, the effect of explicitation and different features of explicitation between translation, consecutive interpreting and simultaneous interpreting.

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