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«Studying Style in Simultaneous Interpretation Sane M. Yagi Meta : journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators' Journal, vol. 45, n° 3, 2000, p. ...»

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Article

"Studying Style in Simultaneous Interpretation"

Sane M. Yagi

Meta : journal des traducteurs / Meta: Translators' Journal, vol. 45, n° 3, 2000, p. 520-547.

Pour citer cet article, utiliser l'information suivante :

URI: http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/004626ar

DOI: 10.7202/004626ar

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Pour communiquer avec les responsables d'Érudit : info@erudit.org Document téléchargé le 25 November 2016 07:09 520 Meta, XLV, 3, 2000 Studying Style in Simultaneous Interpretation sane m. yagi Sultan Qaboos University, Oman RÉSUMÉ Divers outils ont été développés pour faciliter l’analyse quantitative du style d’interpréta- tion, un sujet qui n’a été que vaguement traité jusqu’à maintenant. Ces outils peuvent permettre la recherche sur des questions telles que « Comment procède l’interprète pour partager le message original reçu ? », « Jusqu’à quel point reflète-t-il l’orateur original ? »

et « Jusqu’à quel point pratique-t-il une modification ? ». De plus, un instrument adaptif de surveillance est mis au point pour faciliter la représentation graphique du développement linéaire d’un discours et de son interprétation équivalente simultanée. Non seulement nous permet-il d’évaluer la convergence et la divergence entre les deux discours, mais aussi et surtout de porter un jugement sur le tempo d’un interprète en caractérisant la périodicité (courte ou longue) de son discours, ainsi que sur son sang-froid ou son trouble en décrivant le degré de cohérence et d’aisance dans le discours.

ABSTRACT

Several tools are developed to facilitate the quantitative analysis of interpretation style, a matter that has hitherto been discussed only in vague terms. These tools can allow the investigation of questions such as: How does an interpreter divide up a source language input, to what extent does he mirror a source language speaker, and to what degree does he practise reformulation? Furthermore, an adaptive monitoring instrument is devised to facilitate the graphic representationof the linear developments of a source language discourse and its simultaneous interpretation equivalent. Not only does it allow the assessment of convergence and divergence between the two discourses, but this also permits commenting on an interpreter’s tempo by characterising the narrow and broad periodicity within his discourse, and on his composure and tribulation by describing his consistency and fluency in the discourse.

MOTS-CLÉS/KEYWORDS style, simultaneous interpretation, quantitative analysis, monitoring instrument, convergence, divergence Introduction Style in simultaneous interpretation (SI) is one of the fundamental aspects of the interpretation performance. It concerns those features that constitute the method of interpreting rather than the substance of the information being rendered. Therefore, discussing it will inevitably lead to a consideration of interpretation techniques, strategies, and cognitive tasks.

The question of what constitutes good interpretation touches the very essence of SI style. Since there is a lack of consensus among theorists and practitioners alike as to the norms of SI and the quality criteria that interpreters need to observe, it is a foregone conclusion that there are no steadfast stylistic norms and criteria. In fact, it is not wide of the mark to say that there is no reliable method for assessing SI quality Meta, XLV, 3, 2000 studying style in simultaneous strategies 521 or style. Pöchhacker (1994: 235) acknowledges this fact saying, “We seem to know what the [SI] product should be like, but we are less sure about a method for establishing what a particular product is like in a given situation. Quite obviously, researchers, teachers, and trainees need to have a method for looking at the product.” The International Association of Conference Interpreters defines quality in conference interpretation as “that elusive something which everyone recognises but no one can successfully define” (AIIC 1982). In the same vein, SI style is an elusive concept that interpretation users can sense but cannot verbalise. They can pass general value judgements about whether an interpretation performance is up to standard or not, but then they can neither agree in their priorities, tastes, and comprehension, nor in what they hold as standard. Confirming that quality assessors tend to use different yardsticks, Seleskovitch (1986) and Gile (1991a) have concluded that interpretation users are liable to give misleading evaluations because they have different expectations.

As was evident in the 1994 Turku conference on interpreting, researchers have been attempting to identify “just what it is that makes for excellence in [SI]” (Shlesinger 1997: 123). Participants in a workshop on simultaneous interpretation quality in that conference discussed the issue from three perspectives: market perspective, research perspective, and didactic perspective. They were critical that subjective criteria tend to be variable, so they expressed the need for identifying objective criteria by which quality can be assessed.





Due to the inconsistencies of quality perception among those whose discourse is the subject of interpretation as well as among those for whom the interpretation is made, there is an increasingly louder plea for more objective methods of quality assessment. There is a clear desire to pin down that which makes an interpretation performance better than another and to develop more tangible criteria for assessing the evasive aspects of quality. The need for objective methods of assessment was accentuated by several studies, among them that conducted by Gile (1991b), which found only a weak correlation between ‘satisfactory quality’ as perceived by a given speaker and the fidelity, linguistic acceptability, clarity and/or terminological accuracy of the translator’s output.

As to the development of objective methods of SI assessment, Cartellieri (1983:

213) suggests that we find quantitative features that may eventually develop into qualitative criteria. Pöchhacker (1994: 234) advocates this idea, suggesting that the question then arises as to “how we should best go about defining and analysing the text produced by the interpreter as an ‘objective’, that is, physical reality. What are the textualised parameters and variables underlying judgements of quality in simultaneous interpreting, and how can they be measured and quantified in a corpus of texts?” Quantitative Aspects of SI Style One can deal with the simultaneous interpreted discourse on many levels: pragmatic or semantic, intra- or inter-textual, qualitative or quantitative, etc. In Pöchhacker’s (1994: 238) words, the interpreted discourse is a “multi-faceted whole within a communicative situation.” Pöchhacker (1994: 236) asserts that “In simultaneous interpreting, the text as such is […] a multi-parametric semiotic whole, which, in its full complexity, often 522 Meta, XLV, 3, 2000 defies description,” so he proposes “a text model with constituents in both the auditive and the visual channels, on a ‘verbal-paraverbal-kinesic continuum.’” In his model of the SI ‘audio-visual text’, Pöchhacker suggests that “one can derive a number of textual features or parameters, such as slips and structure shifts in verbal production, voiced hesitation markers, peculiarities of voice quality and articulation, the use of (pictorial or verbal) visual information (such as slides), as well as prosodic and/or paraverbal features.” To these textual constituents, Pöchhacker (1994: 236) adds quantitative stylistic aspects of the interpreted discourse as manifested in “temporal phenomena like speed, pausing, and rhythmical pattern, which are often dominant in shaping the overall impression of a spoken text.” It is these phenomena, and hesitation, that determine the audience’s perceived degree of fluency and perhaps competence in an interpreted discourse. Other quantifiable aspects of performance affect the interpreter’s time management ability and, to some degree, accuracy. For instance, delay and discourse chunking play an important role in how interpreters manage their time, and that may indirectly affect whether they resort to Gile’s (1995) “law of least effort” and practise non-tactful omission.

The temporal phenomena Pöchhacker talks about have also been recognised as quantifiable gauges of SI performance by earlier researchers such as Goldman-Eisler (1968), Barik (1969), Gerver (1969), Chernov (1969), etc. The statistical tools developed in the present paper will be used to study only two quantitative aspects of SI style: fluency and chunking, which indirectly touch on a third aspect: lag. We need to be mindful, however, that discussing SI quality and style within a quantitative framework lays no exclusive claim to objectivity. A linguistic analysis of interpreted discourse may prove to be more reliable in quality assessment; yet if it is possible to correlate SI quantitative features with some content-based criteria, then quantitative analysis will indeed be indispensable. It will be used for substantiating and strengthening any judgement based on the linguistic content of an interpretation. Let us for now consider these stylistic quantitative aspects: fluency, chunking, and lag.

Fluency A conference speaker and audience who do not speak the language of one another can only evaluate the simultaneously interpreted discourse by its form. They assess the performance of an interpreter by the fluency and nativelikedness in their TL discourse. Kopczynski (1994) conducted a survey among conference speakers and attendees to identify what they viewed as elements that contribute to quality in a simultaneously interpreted discourse. He found that both groups ranked fluency and style third on their list of priorities after content and terminological precision.

Skilled interpreters (e.g., Jones 1998: 130) warn novices that “they should not make artificial pauses in the middle of a sentence because they are thinking of what to say next or are waiting for extra input from the speaker.” They observe that audiences sometimes expect the interpreter to “keep up a continuous flow of sound in the booth” worrying about missing out on part of the SL discourse (Jones 1998: 128).

They stress that “the constant objective of the interpreter is to provide a correct translation of the original in a form that sounds as natural and as authentic as possible in the target language: the audience should not feel they are listening to a translation” (Jones 1998: 90).

523 studying style in simultaneous strategies Not only does an interpreted discourse need to be fluent to earn the SI practitioner approval from their partners in the communication process, the speaker and audience, but also they need to imitate the tempo and intensity of the speaker’s voice according to Kopczynski (1994). He found out that the majority of his questionnaire respondents had considered important that the interpreter assume a ghost role, ie, imitating the speaker. Although the validity of this conclusion is doubtful, as Kopczynski himself indicated, it points to the importance that interpretation users place on the method of TL discourse delivery. Because of the clear relevance of fluency to perceived interpreter competence, it is sound to consider it an aspect of SI style. Fluency is immediately relevant to the method of SI delivery; it represents the fluidness and smoothness of SI delivery. Therefore, it should not be controversial to consider fluency an aspect of interpretation style.

We can study fluency quantitatively if we succeed in identifying the elements that contribute to a seemingly effortless, fluid, and smooth interpretation. There is no doubt that false-start and hesitation ridden interpretation is non-fluent. And so is an interpretation with incomplete sentences, long-drawn-out delays, and a large volume of inactivity. Since these can be readily identified, fluency ought to be quantifiable. For instance, an interpreted discourse which consists of 40% pausing and has 10 false-starts, 15 hesitations, 13 incomplete sentences, and 7 instances of extended delays, is certainly less fluent than one that has 30% pausing, 5 false-starts, 5 hesitations, 3 incomplete sentences, and only 4 instances of extended delays. All of these properties of fluency are quantifiable; therefore, it should not be contentious to claim that fluency itself is one aspect of SI style that is also quantifiable.

Chunking A fundamental aspect of SI style that affects the interpreter’s ability to cope with the seemingly unending flow of SL discourse is chunking. This is a coping strategy that interpreters use to divide up TL long stretches of discourse into chunks of manageable size. Gile (1995: 196) advocates chunking as a strategy that “can save short-term memory capacity requirements by unloading information from memory faster.” Similarly, Jones (1998) urges SI trainees to use a technique based on chunking that he coined the ‘salami technique.’ It involves slicing up long sentences into a number of shorter ones. He says, “The salami technique is particularly useful when working from languages that have a natural tendency to long, complicated sentences, particularly those that can have Russian doll-like structures, with one subordinate clause fitting in another one, which in turn fits into a main clause (such as the socalled Schachtelsätze in German)” (Jones 1998: 102).



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