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Thayer, Robert E. (1989) The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal, New York: Oxford. Varela, Francisco J. (1984) 'The Creative Circle: Sketches on the Natural History of Circularity', in Paul Wlatzlawick (ed.) The Invented Reality, New York and London:

Norton, 309-323.

------, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch (1991) The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Science, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

von Glasersfeld, Ems! (1984) 'An Introduction to Radical Constructivism', in Paul Wlatzlawick (ed.) The Invented Reality, New York and London: Norton, 17-40. ------ (1995) Radical Constructivism: A Way of Knowing and Learning, London and Washington: Palmer.

Vygotsky, Lev S. (1978) Mind in Society, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

14 Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting Research


Abstract: The point of departure of this is the assumption that research in dialogue interpreting defined as interpreter-mediated communication in spontaneous face-to-face interaction constitutes an identifiable field of study within interpreting research. That is, there is much to be gained by distinguishing it from conference interpreting, the area which has so far attracted more attention from researchers. This is not to suggest that all fields of dialogue interpreting are identical or even similar: the

of the courtroom interpreter.for example, is radically different from that of the interpreter in a medical consultation or a business negotiation. Nevertheless, a of shared contextual constraints (the immediacy of

encounter, the often sensitive nature of the topics discussed,

the interpreter's role as etc.) are bound /0 exert a considerable

influence on the unfolding of the Thus, the object of study is a

three-party interaction in which tum management, role conflict, discourse, power, distance, politeness and other pragmatic issues become prominent. The chapter makes a plea for studies which focus on such issues as these

in to concern with the measurement of error', 'cor. source-to-target text comparison, etc. II also discusses a number of methodological issues facing the dialogue inter-

preting researcher, including the availability and representativeness of data, the observer's paradox and the inherent difficulty of accounting [or particular participant moves.

1. The field of study

Dialogue interpreting is a relatively new field of research and an even newer label to describe a particular form of interpreting. Given the plethora of terms currently in use to describe various modes of interpreting, the questions is bound to arise as to whether the addition of yet another label can contribute anything useful to our understanding of the field. In addition to the well-recognized and established modes of simultaneous and consecutive conference interpreting, a number of more-or-less welj-accepted designations are used to describe an alternative mode, which involves two-way interpreting between interlocutors using two different languages. 'Bilateral', 'liaison', 'ad hoc', 'public service' and 'community' all refer to slightly differing aspects of the process and are preferred according to the professional orientation of those involved. Currently, the distinction most often made is the professional one between conference interpreting and community interpreting, reflecting real


Intercultural Faultlines

differences in interpreters' conditions of work, professional status and areas of specialization. In a professional context, these labels are indeed perfectly adequate and there would seem no need for further refinement. Yet, from a research point of view, it is important to be specific about the object of study and the way in which the latter influences the research agenda and the models and methods most appropriate to its investigation.

It is in this sense that the term dialogue interpreting seems most suited to what we see as an identifiable and distinctive field of study. The essential characteristic of the mode of interpreting being considered here is face-to-face interaction. It is this single feature which will be seen to determine most of the issues to be mentioned in what follows, including the models and methods of study. This faceto-face interaction involves the following essential features:

dialogue (typically, though by no means always, two interpreter are involved);

spontaneous speech (unplanned discourse); (relatively) short turns at talk; bi-directionaljty of translation.

other than the

Conference interpreting, on the other hand, typically involves:


pre-planned, often scripted source material; sustained turns at talk (e.g. a conference speech); unidirectional translating.

These conference-interpreting characteristics invite research not so much of interaction (between all parties) as of action (on the part of the interpreter). It is therefore not surprising that the main thrust of research in conference interpreting has been into what we may call performance phenomena. Experimental work has been carried out into the interpreter's memory and recall under various conditions, the time-lag (or 'ear-voice span') between input and output in simultaneous mode, the multi-tasking capacity of the interpreter, chunking (of input into manageable processing sequences), anticipation (of immediately forthcoming input) and so on. Thus, the simultaneous interpreting booth is akin to a test tube in which the interpreter's performance can be considered in semi-isolation from interactional factors which, although present, are less prominent than in the dialogue mode. There are, for example, few studies of source-language speaker performance in the conference interpreting context. Likewise, target-language audience response remains relatively under-researched, despite the obvious relevance of studies of the effectiveness of the mode of communication to all those concerned in the profession.

In dialogue interpreting, on the other hand, it would be difficult to isolate the

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting


interpreter's performance in this way. As a three-party transaction, each participant's moves affect each other participant, and progression towards a mutual goal (the accepted outcome of the event) is negotiated step-by-step by all three parties. Under such circumstances, non-cognitive features such as the ethnography of communication, the socio-cultural and socio-textual norms which govern the event are bound to take precedence over any principles of translational correspondence between source and target texts, as nan-owly conceived within traditional translation studies.

One way of understanding what is at stake and what is distinctive in this mode of interpreting is to observe what Harris and Sherwood (1978) calI 'natural' interpreting. That is, one can observe the way in which bilinguals who are called upon to act as interpreters behave spontaneously, in the absence of any training or prior reflection on the task. And how does that behaviour influence Of how is it influenced by the behaviour of the other parties to the In these cases, where instances of miscommunication may be frequent, the underlying mechanisms, namics and forces at play in the situation occasionally come to the surface in a very obvious way. Banis and Sherwood (1978: 157) cite the case of a business transaction in Canada involving a monolingual Italian immigrant, relying on his bilingual daughter to ensure communication with his monolingual English-speaking counter-

part. At a key point in the interaction, the following takes

Father to interpreter:

Interpreter to 3rd party:

Father (angrily, in Italian):

Digli che e un imbecillel

My father won't accept your offer. Why didn't you tell him what I told

As a fragment of simultaneous conference interpreting output of a quotation within a the daughter's translation would be highly deviant and probably

seen as evidence of incompetence on the part of the . Yet the i ntor-rrrerer-'

response is clearly an instance of motivated behaviour and, as evidence of natural dialogue interpreting, suggests a range of issues for investigation:

the participation framework (Goffrnan 1981), including and recipient roles (Why does the primary party address the interpreter instead of his interlocutor and what are the consequences of this? Bow does the interpreter's use of reported speech - "My father. .. " - affect responsibility for the words uttered");

acceptations of what constitutes conventionally appropriate behaviour in different cultural contexts (the modern North American and traditional Italian business environments);

the negotiation of face and politeness (Brown and Levinson 1987), in relation to perceptions of power and distance between the participants.


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These and other issues surface in virtually all dialogue interpreting events, from business transactions to medical consultations, from media interviews to courtroom cross-examinations and so on. Thus, the field of study is a distinctive one and is not co-terminous with what is generally referred to as community interpreting.

In short, there is a need for soundly based research into those interesting areas of concern (the ethnography of communication, pragmatics, discourse processes) which dialogue interpreting directs our attention towards. At the same time, while recognizing a category of events which we may call dialogue interpreting, it remains important to acknowledge the diversity which exists between different events within the field, as suggested above. Likewise, we must recognize that, as with other fields of study, the boundaries are fuzzy. Sign-language interpreting, for example, which shares all of the interactional features referred to above, is not a face-to-face event in quite the same way (eye contact has to be between signers rather than between primary participants) and may not always involve dialogue. Similarly, some courtroom interpreting is not dialogic (e.g. chuchotage for the benefit of an accused person). Telephone interpreting shares some of the characteristics evoked above but not all. But despite the diversity, it should be possible to map out a research agenda for the field a whole and to identify appropriate methods of investigation.

2. Advances so far: an overview

An overview of major orientations in dialogue interpreting research to date is available in Mason (1999: 147-160). Two large-scale studies stand out from the field, both in terms of their general approach to the topic and in terms of methodology. Berk-Seligsou's (1990) study of interpreting in American courtrooms and Wadensjo' s (1992 and 1998) investigation of interaction in immigration and medical interviews do much to lay the groundwork and set standards for future research. Among the central concerns they address, we can single out four well-documented and unimpeachable methodological principles.

The first of these may be succinctly put: the conduit model of communication is untenable as a basis for the study of dialogue interpreting. As Reddy (1979) observed, much of the layperson's language about language uses metaphors which suggest that communication consists of transporting ('conveying', 'bringing out', etc.) a definable entity (called, say, a or 'the content') from producer to receiver via a process of de-coding and re-encoding. It is consequently not surprising that the layperson's expectation of an interpreter is that he or she will produce no more or less than a literal and accurate translation of an original utterance. That this is impossible is often overlooked by those who regard the interpreter as some kind of translating machine. In linguistics, the need for a pragmatic dimension to account for the relation between language, its context of use and the multiple meanings which can be exchanged beyond the literal, propositional sense of the words uttered has long been recognized. However, in the field that concerns us here, it

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting


will be important to recognize that users of interpreting services (clients, public services, the law and so on) cannot be expected to be aware of recent trends in linguistics and language study. Many studies (for example, Berk-Seligson 1990 and Morris 1995 in relation to court interpreting; Roy 1990 and 2000 more generally and in relation to sign-language interpreting) stress the mismatch between user expectations and the realities of verbal interaction. Indeed, the point is so well demonstrated, particularly where courtroom interaction is concerned, that it may safely be taken as a starting point rather than a goal of future research.

Ensuing from this, a second principle is the centrality of pragmatics. So much communication in these encounters is effected via implicature and inference, that any analysis which restricts itself to semantic or propositional meaning cannot possibly lead to an adequate description of the unfolding of the event. Thus, whereas Berk-Seligson (1990: 2) claims that "professional interpreters overwhelmingly view vocabulary as their number one linguistic problem", the results of her study of American courtrooms leads her to conclude (1990: 198) that "interpreter training programs should look to linguistics in general, and to the field of pragmatics in particular, to sensitize persons entering this profession as to the multiple ways in which they can affect a jury".

Thirdly, it is now apparent that no serious study of dialogue interpreting can afford to overlook the participation framework of the event. Wadensjo (1992 and 1998) has admirably demonstrated how shifts of footing (Goffrnan 1981) the orientation of speakers and hearers towards each other and towards the verbal output -- are commonplace in such events. She identifies the various speaker roles and hearer roles that each participant in the can adopt and shows how these fundamentally affect what is communicated and how. Primary participants may choose to address each other directly, including eye contact with each other, almost as if no other party were present. Conversely, they may address all their remarks to the interpreter, thus clearly signalling a wish for the interpreter to act as a kind of intermediary. Unless they have received training in such matters, these primary parties can be expected to display uncertainty and shift their footing frequently. The interpreter, in turn, then plays an important role as a coordinator of others' talk by virtue of the footing she or he adopts. Indeed, in addition to the distancing effect of the third-person footing ("The doctor says he thinks you should ... ") versus the directness of first-person ("I think you should ... "), there is the effect of the interpreter intervening on her/his own behalf (e.g. "I'rn sorry, could you repeat that?"), attributing turns at talk (by gaze, intonation and so on) or seeking to influence the footing of other parties (e.g. to a witness in court: "please address your remarks to the attorney, not to me" - see Berk-Seligson 1990: 152). In this respect, Wadensjo (1998: 109) distinguishes between explicit co-ordination and implicit co-ordination, noting that all interpreter utterances have the effect of attributing the next turn at talk. Thus, the interpreter in many situations (though not all) exercises control as gatekeeper of the whole exchange. It is consequently apparent


Intercultural F aultlines


by now that research in the field of dialogue interpreting cannot afford to overlook producer roles and receiver roles and how they influence each other: consideration of the participation framework is the key to any analysis of these exchanges.

Finally, as has been the case in translation studies in general, there has been a decisive shift away from prescriptivism towards descriptive studies of dialogue interpreting. Wadensjo (1998: 79-80) detects a normative trend in some earlier studies, particularly where the work of untrained interpreters is implicitly and unfavourably compared to some professional norm of translation. Such comparisons are unhelpful. Yet it is important that we continue to investigate all kinds of interpreter behaviour in order to deepen our understanding of the processes involved. It is equally important to realize that avoiding prescriptive statements in reporting the behaviour of untrained interpreters is not tantamount to condoning their use in a range of socio-professional environments. Such practice is, it would appear, still widespread and is universally condemned by the interpreting profession, whose members can cite any number of examples of serious miscommunication resulting from the use, for example, of young children to interpret for their parents in medical or social service encounters. From a strictly research point of view, however, we should not allow such judgements to interfere with the Heed to observe regularities of behaviour of all parties to these encounters and to arrive at data-rich descriptions of all aspects of these three-way On the basis of research findings thus obtained, it will then be possible for those involved in training and accreditation to make recommendations for what constitutes appropriate interpreter behaviour.

interpreter acting as an animator (Wadensjo 1998: 88) of her words, leads the

to resort to what she might perceive as a more secure form of communication, addressing the interpreter as someone who shares her language. Another instance of shifts of footing in the same direction is available in Tebble (1999: 190) but here the underlying motivation appears different:

He addresses the patient by her first name at the start of the exposition [ ... ] and he addresses her three times as you. But when he has something negative to report, he distances himself from the patient by switching to the thirdperson pronouns she and her and speaks to the interpreter instead of the patient.

These then are the foundations on which further research may proceed. The studies mentioned above, and many other smaller-scale investigations as well, raise issues

of crucial importance, deserving of further investigation. it will be

here only to mention some of these, but each of the points listed below suggests a range of possible avenues of research and all of these interlink with each other in some way.

We need to know more about what motivates shifts of footing. To be in a position to make valid generalizations about this question, we would need evidence of regularities of behaviour from substantial amounts of data. Nevertheless, some interesting pointers from existing studies regarding the behaviour of primary participants offer material for forming hypotheses to be tested. In data presented by Pochhacker and Kadric (1999), a therapist addresses her patient: "Do you understand me'?". In the absence of an immediate response, she then turns to the interpreter and, begins: "Tell him to ... ''. For the remainder of the exchange she then continues on this footing, addressing the interpreter directly but the patient indirectly. It is as if an initial loss of confidence in the direct mode of address, via an

This would seem to provide evidence for the distancing effect of third-person style (see Harris 1981) and of primary parties' instinctive awareness of opportunities for exploiting the presence of an interpreter to achieve their own goals. But corroborative evidence of such patterned behaviour is obviously needed. The same data fragments also show how the behaviour of primary participants is just as important and influential on the unfolding of the as is that of the interpreter. Accordingly, some studies investigate the behaviour of particular groups of interpreter-users, for example consultant physicians (Tebble 1999), and expert witnesses (Miguelez forthcoming).

Gaze and posture were mentioned above as important vectors of

and co-ordination of activity in this mode of interpreting. Lang (1978) studied court cases in Papua New Guinea, observing the face and body movements of each main participant. In this particular environment, he found that the participants used averted Of directed gaze and gestures hands outstretched) in a way to

turns at talk. Yet it is striking that arrangements, which to an extent termine range of gaze in dialogue interpreting encounters, vary widely, even in courtrooms. So far, study, despite being replicable, has not led to any aruer-xcale investigation in other cultural contexts.

Another characteristic of dialogue interpreting of thorough

investigation is the interplay and effects of power differentials. In virtually the whole range of community interpreting encounters, there is a wide gap in status and power between the parties involved. Barsky (1994) points to the of applicants for asylum in Canada. Essentially, his thesis is that command of a certain discourse is necessary for success in such situations, a discourse to which applicants typically do not have access. In many cases, those who serve as may likewise have no access to the preferred discourse. In other cases, the interpreter may, consciously or otherwise, effect discoursal shifts. These discourses, as the preferred modes of expression which relay and give voice to the values and attitudes of social institutions (see Hatim and Mason 1997: 18) involve much more than just register variation. What we do know from existing studies of court interpretingflserk-Seligson 1990, Hale 1997) is that register shifts are commonplace

3. Issues for investigation


Intercultural Faultlines

and that interpreters often adapt style to what they believe to be expected by receivers. Also, Brennan and Brown (1997) have conclusively demonstrated on the basis of evidence from a large-scale project the disadvantage of the Deaf person in court. Beyond matters of variation, it seems probable that power and status are couferred on those who control the official discourse and denied to those who have no access to it. But we lack the kinds of fine-grained analyses of discourses and discoursal shifts in actual immigration/asylum exchanges which could give real substance to Barsky's claims. There is obvious scope here for much research to be done from an interactional pragmatic and semiotic perspective.

It is probably the interpreters' perception of these imbalances which leads to the problem of role conflict, attested in many studies, including the major studies mentioned above. Anderson (1976) and Berk-Seligson (1990), among others, note that interpreters are sensitive to in-group loyalties, i.e., although in varying bilingual, they usually see themselves as belonging to one rather than the other of the ethnic groups involved in the exchange. Often, this will be the ethnic group of the relatively powerless party, say, an accused person in court or an illegal immigrant. There is then pressure on the to display some allegiance to their ingroup. At the same time, however, they are conscious of acting professionally for an employer, whose" goals they may (or may not) feel they should help to achieve.

Thus, they are pulled both ways, even within one The following

ments, involving the same participants in the same Polish/English immigration interview, I illustrate the dilemma.

What were you doing before that in Poland?

A cos robil przed przyjazdem tutaj do Anglii w Polsce? And what were you doing in Poland before coming here to England?

Znaczy uczylern sie w szkole I was learning at school Jaco student?

As a student?

Polish interviewee: Nie, mechanik samochodowy.

Immigration officer:


Polish interviewee:


No. car mechanic

Interpreter: Right, he was attending a course, a car mechanics course.

Fragment 1

Immigration officer:


What did you say in reply to these questions? Cos ty jemu powiedzial?

What did you tell him?

I These extracts are from the UK television Channel Four documentary series Cutting Edge, in a programme entitled Illegal immigrants, broadcast on 30 September 1997.

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting


Polish interviewee: Powiedzialem nieprawde, powiedzialem ze bec!e tutaj w celach turystycznych.

I told an untruth, I said I would be here for tourist purposes.

Interpreter: I said that I came here 011 a visit, to do a bit of sight

Fragment 2

III Fragment 1, the interpreter clearly assumes the role of the immigration officer in eHciting.fU!1her information from the interviewee, information which is unlikely to be beneficial to the latter. This is not an isolated example. And it is not unusual that interpreters who work regularly for the same employer anticipate the clarity which the interviewer seeks in answers from the interviewee and thus take the initiative in trying to achieve it. Conversely though, in Fragment 2, the interpreter filters out an element liable to be detrimental to the client's cause (l told an untruth). lfnothinc

. these illustrations show the extent of the power invested in the interpreter by

VIrtue of the situation.

Nevertheless, it will be important to distinguish between power within the exchange - the interpreter as gate-keeper and as re-presenter of discourses and social status - from power in social situations. In real terms, most dialogue interpreters enjoy very little power and, as mentioned above, tend to be thought of by the authorities who use their services as little more than talking machines. Only rarely are they accorded the status of intercultural experts, able to intervene to avoid crosscultural miscommunication (see Brislin 1980).

Closely related to the issue of power is that of face and politeness (in the sense intended by Brown and Levinson 1987). Few studies to date have the mitigation of threats to face in dialogue-interpreted encounters. Knapp-Potthoff and Knapp (1987) provide some evidence of natural (a) not others' politeness, and (b) introducing redressive action to save their own face. Unfortunately, this study, as Wadensjo (1998: 77) has pointed out, is normative in its expectations of how a professional (as opposed to a natural) interpreter would behave. But it does provide a number of pointers for future research and alone with Berk-Seligson (1988), who shows that the use or deletion of honorifics (~ir, M~dam) by the interpreter has a significant effect on receivers' perceptions, suggests that politeness is a major factor in dialogue interpreting exchanges. There is plenty of scope here for further investigation.

Discourses also emerge in lexical selections and, in this respect, the use of marked or semiotically salient items often poses considerable problems for the interpreter. Suddenly, the focus is on an individual lexical choice made by the interpreter and the consequences of a particular option may not be immediately apparent. Pyrn (1999) = the use of the terms 'hit' and 'slap' by an interpreter at the O. J. Simpson trial m the United States to translate several different Spanish source-text expressions.


Intercultural FaultUnes

Pointing out that various parties to the exchange are monitoring the, interpreter's output for its 'accuracy', Pym shows up the discrepancy between official expectations of interpreter performance and the socio-linguistic realities of the situation, In a wholly different situation, Krouglov (1999) cites a key Russian phrase repealed by various witnesses as having been uttered by a murder su~~ect. The dialectal expression Ya tebya uroyu was variously translated by three different interpreters as:

I'll kill you I'll get you

I will stitch you up,

Each translation in its way relays subtle discoursal variants, with no objective grounds for selecting one rather than the other. Yet the potential consequences in a criminal investigation could, if the situation had not been clarified, have been serious.

Another striking lexical dilemma of this kind is provided by Hatirn and Mason (1997: 56-7). When Saddarn Hussein was interviewed on British television

the Gulf War, he used the item mustadeafuun, initially translated by his interpreter as 'We are hopeless', then repaired to 'We are helpless' and, in a final revision, to 'We are hopeless ahd helpless'. These bear witness to the i~terpreter's dilemma, aware that none of these translations adequately relayed the discoursal value of Saddams utterance, In fact, the Arabic item bears heavy intertextualiry, having been used in a slogan by Ayatollah Khomeini' s Party of God in Iran in the sense of 'the victimized Oil Earth' and appearing in a Quranic verse in the sense of victimization. The discourse of victimization was, of course, central to the case Saddam was making at the time.

What is significant in examples such as these is that it is the interpreter's lexical

selection, not the original source item, that elicits a response from the other interlocutor in the exchange. Hence, the future direction of the talk exchange may well be determined by an instantaneous interpreter decision which may not or even cannot relay the intended discourse. Studies are needed of the take-up by primary

of interpreter selections and how this Influences the unfolding of the ICA'.llQ,ll>('"

4. Methods of investigation

There is consequently no lack of issues for future research to investigate, Pulling tozether some of the strands identified so far, we can now reflect on appropriate methods for researching the linguistics, pragmatics and semiotics of dialogue-interpreted events. Milroy (1987: 3-4) outlines three models of tbe process of linguistic investigation. In the introspective method the investigator relies on self-observatIOn or his/her own competence as a language user to generate a model of (a part of) the linzuistic system under analysis. As Milroy observes, many linguists rely on intuition at least to some extent, if only in determining an area worth investigating, but

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue


most would now agree that the introspective method alone is unreliable. The analytic method involves collecting a corpus of independently generated data, the evidence from which is used by the investigator to generate the model. The advantage of this method is that it can yield more reliable generalizations which are not accessible to intuition. It could be added, with contemporary corpus linguistics in mind, that the larger the corpus, the more this tends to be true. The disadvantage of the analytic method is that, since a corpus can never be exhaustive, it can never be claimed that it is entirely representative. Thus, corpus-generated evidence needs to be supplemented in some principled way and it is the experimental method which often plays this role. Using this method, the investigator has control over the data accessed by using as evidence the responses of informants. The pro hi ems which arise in the use of this method tend to be those of experimental design, including sampling techniques and statistical methods, The three methods may be graphically represented as in Figure 1.

Introspective method

Model .__ Investigator


Analytic method

Model "'11--- Investigator

.-----.- Language

Experimental method

Model .-,- Investigator ~ Informant -----)10.


._ Language

Figure 1, Three models of linguistic (adapted from Milroy 1987: 3)

of each of these three models can be seen in the methods employed in the large-scale studies mentioned above. Let us now revisit (1990) and Wadensjo (1998) from this point of view. A number of initial hypotheses are tested by experiment in Berk-Seligson (1990). The selection of which hypotheses to test is informed by the analyst" s intuitive observation of a number of features, for differences in the use of honorifics between Latin American Spanish and North American English. Noticing that interpreters frequently omitted the term of address when translating from Spanish into English, the analyst then asks the question: does this have any effect on auditors' (in practice, the jury's) perception of the persons thus translated? The experimental design used to investigate this question is reviewed below.

Introspection also surfaces in the form of 'other-introspection' when participants are invited to comment on their own perceptions in post-performance interviews


Intercultural F aultlines

(see Wadensjo 1998: 94). Likewise, Roy (2000) uses playback interviews so t?at each participant can comment on his or her own linguistic output. In conducting such interviews there is, of course, a need to overcome any simplistic error-analysis mentality on the part of informants. Another inhibiting factor here may be participants' embarrassment at being asked to listen to and comment on their own speech.

Berk-Seligson and Wadensjo differ in the use they make of the analytic method.

The former made daily visits to courtrooms over a seven-month period in order to compile a corpus consisting of 114 hours of audio-recorded proceedings, toget~er with detailed notes taken by the analyst. She relates that only one attorney denied permission to record and the only other objections she encountered were from one interpreter and one court reporter. These details are interesting in that they contrast with the experience of many would-be researchers of dialogue interpreting, who have encountered major difficulties in obtaining permission to record. Indeed, this difficulty can be seen as one of the major obstacles to large-scale empirical studies. It follows that, at this stage in dialogue interpreting research, we may need to be content with further small-scale studies, wherever access to at least some authentic data can be obtained.

Yet very large quantities of data are not always necessary in any case. Wadensjo (1998: 99), who makes clear that her analysis is qualitative and not aimed at the study of linguistic variation, makes no claim that her data are necessarily representative. Rather, her purpose is "to explore natural interpreting occasions" and. for this purpose, "a corpus of 20 or even 10 short encounters can be considered quite large". As always, then, the scale and scope of the corpus compiled for proceeding via the analytic method will depend on the objectives of the research. A qualitative study may rely on a much lesser corpus than a quantitative study. And the aims of a study of simulated data cannot be the same as those of a study of authentic data occurrinz in a real social context. The differences in approach to data collection in

b'" ". . . . _ ,,_ ,_ '.' •• , .'

studies carried out to date is quite striking. For (l 978) study of liaison inter-

preters in Papua New Guinea (see above), two and a half hours of film from one stationary camera were quite sufficient. The of gesture and gaze were such that collecting more data would not have produced different results, only more of the same. A more extreme example is Roy (2000), whose study of discourse processes in (signed-language) interpreting is based upon analysis of a single thirtyminute encounter, recorded by means of a hand-held video camera. The objectives of this study were not to make any kind of representative statement about participants' behaviour in such encounters but rather to deal with more specific concerns, such as "to describe, analyze and interpret the turn-taking exchanges in one interpreted event; and to discuss, from the analysis of one role performance, an interpreter's role as it is performed in interaction with others" (Roy 2000: 3).

All of the studies mentioned above in this section were conducted by means of a form of participant observation, the guiding principle of which is "that the observer should be part of the setting which he or she is studying" (Milroy 1987: 77). The

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting


degree of intrnsion upon a natural event which this method entails varies greatly from one situation to another. In the academic setting of Roy's recorded event, the analyst was a natural and expected participant. Likewise, Wadensjo, as a professional interpreter, might legitimately be regarded by other participants as an in-group member. In the case of Lang (1978), the analyst is more obviously culturally, ethnically and professionally distant. It remains the case, however, that whatever the credentials of the analyst, she or he will always be subject to the so-called observer's paradox whereby "the very act of recording is likely to distort the object of observation" (Milroy 1987: It is often claimed that participants soon settle down and, after a while, become oblivious to the presence of recording equipment and analyst. One can never be entirely certain that this is the case and little is known about potential modifications to interpreters' style, for example, when they are conscious of being observed in this way. The same goes for other participants. Wadensjo (1998: (5) relates that, in one post-performance interview, an interpreter remarked: ':The Doctor was a much better interpreter user today than he usually is but, well, he was being researched!". Such remarks should encourage caution in making claims about the naturalness of recorded data.

Finally, we come to the experimental method. The best example in the literature of a full-scale experiment is the use by Berk-Seligson (1990) of a modified form of the matched-guise technique. Well known in sociolinguistics, the matched-guise technique was originally developed "to explore how listeners react to various characteristics in speech" (Wardhaugh 1998: Ill). It involves informants in making

judgements of qualities, such as honesty and reliability, in of performance

by the same person in two different for or dialects of

English. Berk-Seligson (1990: 155) describes her "verbal lows. Two audio recordings were made of a witness an interpreter. The recordings were identical, save that in one the reflected in English the use of honorifics tseiior, senora, senorita) by the Spanish-speaking witness, while in the other, the interpreter systematically omitted these honorifics. The text of the was based on the transcription of an actual case which had been observed by the analyst and was scripted, including the interpreter's interventions. Informants were given a necessary minimum of information about what they were to hear and were asked to pretend to be members of a jury. These 'mock jurors' were then asked to rate the witness on a scale (from 1 to 7) for the following traits: competence, intelligence, trustworthiness and convincingness. They consistently rated the 'politely' -interpreted witness higher on each scale than the witness interpreted without use of the honorifics. These are powerful findings and they have obvious significance and many implications, both for interpreters and for those who use their services. Further investigation is called for, in the form of (dislconfirmarory experiments. That this has not yet been attempted may have to do with the scale on which matched-guise experiments have to be


Intercultural Faultlines

conducted. In order to achieve statistical validity, Berk-Seligson's experiment involved no fewer than 551 informants.

Another phenomenon, which could be studied via the experimental method in

terms of auditors' response, is an attested difference in language usage between various languages when answering negatively phrased questions. Berk-Seligson (1990: 73) relates the following exchange, which graphically illustrates the problem.

Defence attorney:

So, are you saying that you wouldn't have told the border patrol


I Excuse me, sir. I have to tell you that you're

using the negative all the time and his answer doesn't really mean much when you're using the negative form of questioning because when he answers "no" it actually comes out . If you say, "Wouldn't do this" or "Wouldn't do that, yes I wouldn't." You see what I mean? You're using the negative and it's confusing

him tremendously.


Fragment 3

In other words, in response to a negatively phrased question of the kind wouldn't...", in Spanish may mean "no, I wouldn't". Wadensjo (1998: 23) relates that a similar contrast exists between Russian and Swedish and adduces the following example of her own response as a court interpreter.


Sa du erkanner inte stolden

So you don 't confess the theft That is you don't confess the theft








Fragment 4

In this instance, the interpreter, aware of the potential ambiguity of a strictly linguistic transfer, Da := Yes, has ensured that the intention of the suspect's reply is made clear. However, as the following fragments show, the ambiguity is often left unattended. Fragment 5 is taken from the same Polish/English immigration interview as Fragments 1 and 2 above. Fragment 6 is one of several such instances from the transcription of the 0.1. Simpson trial in the United States.

Immigration officer:


So you didn't tell the truth? Nie powiedzials prawdy. You didn't tell the truth.

Mason: Models and Methods in Dialogue Interpreting


Polish interviewee: Tak Yes

Fragment 5

Defence attorney:


OK. You had no plans to leave .

Usted no tenia planes para irse .

You had no plans to leave

... on February 17th?

... el 17 de febrero?

on 17th of February?

Sf, senor.

Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

Defence attorney:




Fragment 6

To date, we have no evidence of the effects of such ambiguity. Yet it would be relatively straightforward to construct a listener-response experiment to gauge auditors' understanding of witness's replies to questions of this kind.

5. Conclusion

What I hope to have documented in this chapter is the scope, indeed the need, for far more empirical research in dialogue interpreting. Instead of the entire field of research conducted in this relatively new field of enquiry, this chapter has focused on some major studies and their methodology. One of the initial problems which researchers face is access to viable data. Given this constraint, it is important that research in the field should be incremental, each study building on what has previously been discovered. Studies so far have established a number of important principles, reviewed in this chapter. What we now need is to build up evidence of typical patterns of behaviour in order to be able to make which are supported by adequate evidence. Every contribution helps, from small-scale case studies to large corpora of the kind collected by Berk-Seligson (1990). What matters is not the scale of the study but that the resulting generalizations are commensurate with the supporting evidence. Valid findings may range from the relatively weak claim that 'X happened' (on some occasion), through the stronger claim that 'X happens' (from time to time), as evinced by qualitative analysis, to the very strong claim that 'X frequently or typically happens' on the basis of a quantitative study. All such generalizations will be worth making, provided that they are not stronger than the evidence adduced in support of them. Beyond this, the difficulty remains of seeking to add explanation to description. However frequently a particular interpreter move is attested, it can never be stated with certainty that the move can be attributed to a particular cause. What we can do is show regularities of


Intercultural F aultlines

behaviour and the co-occurrence of various features. For example, one instance of a shift of footing coinciding with the task of announcing bad news may be no more than coincidental. Many instances, involving a range of different participants, would suggest a regularity of behaviour and a motivational link of some kind. It is the task of out such regularities of motivated behaviour that research in dialogue interpreting now needs to pursue.


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