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Comparing Strategy-use and Performance of Self-taught and Institutionally-trained Interpreters in Consecutive Interpreting
Conference interpreting,consecutive interpreting,formal training,self-taught,interpreting strategies,coping tactics,problem triggers,
Before interpreter training institutions were established, almost all interpreters were self-taught. These individuals were mainly bilinguals who became interpreters by chance and developed interpreting techniques and strategies through experience. It eventually became the norm for conference interpreters to receive formal training and these trained interpreters became dominant in the market. Yet, currently, there are still self-taught interpreters active in the market who have not received formal training in interpreting. This study examines whether there are differences between self-taught interpreters and institutionally-trained interpreters in terms of their performance and the strategies they use during consecutive interpreting.
An experimental consecutive interpreting task was conducted in this study with four self-taught interpreters who have not received over six months of formal interpreting training at the graduate level and three interpreters who have received practical training in interpreting and hold master’s degrees in translation and interpretation. The direction of the consecutive interpreting task was from English into Chinese. The total length of the English material was eight minutes and it was divided into eleven segments of various length. Problem triggers were designed into the speech material in order to prompt the participants to use strategies or coping tactics. The speech was delivered by a native English speaker. Interviews were held after the interpreting task to examine the participant’s awareness of strategy-use and decision-making processes. The data collected from the interpreting tasks, interviews, and notes taken during the tasks were then analyzed and compared. Forty-eight audience members were also recruited to rate the interpretations and choose between the self-taught interpreter’s version or the institutionally-trained interpreter’s version.
This allowed this study to analyze the collected material from three different perspectives: the researcher’s perspective, the participant’s perspective, and the perspective of the audience. The results showed that self-taught interpreters and formally-trained interpreters basically use the same strategies when dealing with difficulties while interpreting. In regards of performance, this study analyzed the interpreters’ performances in terms of accuracy and fluency. The analysis showed that formally-trained interpreters performed better overall. Among the 48 audience members who listened to the recordings, most of them chose the formally-trained interpreter’s version over the self-taught interpreter.
It is hoped that this study can shed some light on the differences and similarities between self-taught interpreters and institutionally-trained interpreters as well as facilitate exchange and understanding between the two groups.
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