Allameh Tabataba’i University
Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages
A Didactic Approach
A Dissertation Submitted
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree of Ph.D. in Translation Studies
Advisor: Dr. Kambiz Mahmoodzadeh
Readers: Dr. Farzaneh Farahzad
Dr. Gholam Reza Tajvidi
Mir Saeed Mousavi Razavi
Allameh Tabataba’i University
Faculty of Persian Literature and Foreign Languages
Department of English Translation Studies
A Didactic Approach
A Dissertation Submitted
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree of Ph.D. in Translation Studies
Mir Saeed Mousavi Razavi
Evaluated and Approved by the Dissertation Committee:
Advisor: Dr. K. Mahmoodzadeh ………………………………
Readers: Dr. F. Farahzad …………………………………………
Dr. G. R. Tajvidi ………………………………………………….
Examiners: Dr. M. Yazdani Moghaddam……………………
Dr. S. Manafi …………………………………………
my mother, of whom I will always be proud
my wife, for whose presence I’ll always thank God
my daughter, who is God’s greatest gift to me ever
All gratitude and praise is due to God the Almighty who bestowed upon me the willingness to learn, and by whose grace I managed to complete this work.
Looking back, I find myself grateful to all those from whom I have been able to learn things and earn insights in the course of my life. First and foremost, I am greatly indebted to my parents for their unfailing love and unstinting support. My gratitude towards them goes far beyond what can be expressed by any customary sentence of this type.
The present dissertation has benefited greatly from the sagacious ideas and insightful comments of my advisor, Dr. Mahmoodzadeh, who has been a source of inspiration and support. He has made every effort to enhance the quality of my work by making the necessary corrections and, needless to say, I claim entire responsibility for any remaining inadequacies.
I also wish to extend thanks to Dr. Farahzad and Dr. Tajvidi for their reading of and commenting on the present work. Their ingenious suggestions proved most fruitful throughout this research, particularly in writing the proposal that led to the present dissertation. Had it not been for their encouragements, that proposal would never have come into existence.
My heartfelt appreciation also goes to Dr. Manafi and Dr. Yazdani Moghaddam who kindly accepted to read and evaluate my work as examiners. It is a great opportunity to be judged fairly and judiciously and to learn from them.
CA…………….….processing capacity available for coordination
CR…………….….processing capacity requirements for coordination
DF…………….….degree of freedom
EVS………………ear voice span
LA…………….….processing capacity available for listening
LR…………….….processing capacity requirements for listening
MA……………….processing capacity available for memory
MR……………….processing capacity requirements for memory
PA…………….….processing capacity available for production
PR…………….….processing capacity requirements for production
TA…………….….total processing capacity available for SI
TR…………….….total processing capacity requirements for SI
Figures and Tables
Figure 2.1 Gile’s Effort Model of SI38
Figure 2.2 Processing Capacity Requirements for SI40
Figure 2.3 Necessary Conditions for SI42
Table 4.1 GE Test Scores for Experimental Subjects122
Table 4.2 GE Test Scores for Control Subjects123
Table 4.3 Three Raters’ Scores for Control Subjects on SI Pretest125
Table 4.4 Three Raters’ Scores for Experimental Subjects on SI Pretest126
Table 4.5 Three Raters’ Scores for Control Subjects on SI Posttest127
Table 4.6 Three Raters’ Scores for Experimental Subjects on SI Posttest128
Table 4.7 Pearson Correlation for Raters129
Table 4.8 Z Transformation for Data130
Figure 4.1 Inter-Rater Reliability Diagram for Control Subjects’ Pretest Scores131
Figure 4.2 Inter-Rater Reliability Diagram for Experimental Subjects’ Pretest Scores132
Figure 4.3 Inter-Rater Reliability Diagram for Control Subjects’ Posttest Scores132
Figure 4.4 Inter-Rater Reliability Diagram for Experimental Subjects’ Posttest Scores133
Table 4.9 Control Subjects’ SI Pretest Scores134
Table 4.10 Experimental Subjects’ SI Pretest Scores135
Table 4.11 T-Test Results for SI Pretest Scores138
Table 4.12 Control Subjects’ SI Posttest Scores139
Table 4.13 Experimental Subjects’ SI Posttest Scores140
Table 4.14 T-Test Results for SI Posttest Scores142
Table 4.15 Experimental Subjects’ SI Improvement Rate145
Table 4.16 Linguistic Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects147
Figure 4.5 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Linguistic Intelligence150
Table 4.17 Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects153
Figure 4.6 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Logical-Mathematical Intelligence156
Table 4.18 Visual-Spatial Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects157
Figure 4.7 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Visual-Spatial Intelligence160
Table 4.19 Musical Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects162
Figure 4.8 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Musical Intelligence165
Table 4.20 Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects166
Figure 4.9 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence168
Table 4.21 Interpersonal Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects170
Figure 4.10 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Interpersonal Intelligence172
Table 4.22 Intrapersonal Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects175
Figure 4.11 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Intrapersonal Intelligence177
Table 4.23 Naturalist Intelligence Scores for Experimental Subjects180
Figure 4.12 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Naturalist Intelligence182
Table 4.24 Correlation between MIs and SI Improvement Rate184
Table 4.25 Experimental Subjects’ Degree of Extroversion/Introversion186
Table 4.26 Extroversion Degree and SI Improvement Rate187
Figure 4.13 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Extroversion190
Table 4.27 Introversion Degree and SI Improvement Rate192
Figure 4.14 Scatterplot Diagram for SI Improvement and Introversion194
Conducted within the framework of causal research model in translation studies, the present experimental work addresses the effect of applying certain interpreter-training-specific techniques (e.g. shadowing, improvisation, anticipation, paraphrasing, split-attention exercises, memory enhancement exercises, etc.) on the quality of simultaneous interpretation by the trainees. Prior to the commencement of the experiment, a standard test of General English (IELTS) was administered to ensure homogeneity. The participants (initially 102 who were later reduced to 70) were all undergraduate translation trainees, of whom 35 received the treatment (experimental group) and the remaining 35 did not (control group). Two tests of simultaneous interpretation (a pretest and a posttest) were conducted and then rated by three raters. T-test results for the pretest (t=0.59) showed there was no significant difference between the two groups whereas t-test results for the posttest (t=5.1) indicated that the experimental group outperformed the control group significantly. Such an improvement is believed to be the outcome of the treatment. The possible relation between experimental subjects’ rate of SI improvement and their multiple intelligences was investigated: as to Gardner’s first five intelligences, no statistically significant correlation was found (verbal-linguistic: -0.03, logical-mathematical: 0.178, visual-spatial: 0.26, musical-rhythmic: 0.06, bodily-kinesthetic: 0.02) while the remaining three were observed to correlate significantly with SI improvement level (interpersonal: -0.49, intrapersonal: 0.482, naturalist: 0.446). The possible relation between SI improvement rate and Jung’s two personality types was also probed into: extroversion turned out to have a correlation of -0.08 (near zero) and introversion correlated to the extent of 0.46; a moderate positive correlation, though statistically non-significant.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures and Tables…………………………….………..…………………..…………V
Table of Contents………………………………………..……………………………..X
CHAPTER 1: Introduction
1.1 Chapter Overview2
1.3 Background of the Problem5
1.4 Significance of the Study7
1.5 Purpose of the Study9
1.6 Research Questions9
1.7 Research Hypotheses10
1.8 Theoretical Framework11
1.9 Limitations and Delimitations13
CHAPTER 2: Review of the Related Literature
2.1 Chapter Overview19
2.2 Interpreting: Definition and Modes20
2.2.1 Simultaneous Interpreting23
2.2.2 Consecutive Interpreting26
2.2.3 Sight Translation28
2.2.4 Simultaneous Interpreting with Text31
2.2.5 Liaison Interpreting32
2.2.6 Whispering Interpreting32
2.2.7 Escort Interpreting33
2.3 Simultaneous Interpreting33
2.3.1 Gile’s Effort Model of SI38
2.3.2 Horizontal vs. Vertical Approaches42
2.3.3 EVS and TTS45
2.4 Interpreter-Training Techniques52
2.4.2 Sight Translation59
2.4.3 Consecutive Interpretation60
2.4.8 (Simultaneous) Paraphrasing78
2.5 Multiple Intelligences84
CHAPTER 3: Methodology
3.1 Chapter Overview97
3.2 Type of Research97
18.104.22.168 Experimental Group99
22.214.171.124 Control Group100
126.96.36.199 Consecutive Interpretation105
188.8.131.52 Sight Translation106
184.108.40.206 (Simultaneous) Paraphrasing111
220.127.116.11 General English Test112
18.104.22.168 SI Pretest and Posttest113
22.214.171.124 Multiple Intelligences Test114
126.96.36.199 Personality Type Test115
3.4 Data Collection and Analysis116
3.4.1 General English Test116
3.4.2 SI Pretest and Posttest116
3.4.3 Multiple Intelligences and Personality Type Tests118
CHAPTER 4: Research Findings, Data Analysis, and Discussion
4.1 Chapter Overview121
4.2 GE Test Scores121
4.3 SI Test Scores124
4.3.1 Inter-Rater Reliability124
4.3.2 Pretest, t-test134
4.3.3 Posttest, t-test138
4.4 MI and SI Scores Correlation144
4.4.1 Linguistic Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate147
4.4.2 Logical-Mathematical Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate153
4.4.3 Visual-Spatial Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate157
4.4.4 Musical Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate161
4.4.5 Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate165
4.4.6 Interpersonal Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate170
4.4.7 Intrapersonal Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate174
4.4.8 Naturalist Intelligence and SI Improvement Rate179
4.5 Personality Type and SI Scores Correlation185
4.5.1 Extroversion and SI Improvement Rate187
4.5.2 Introversion and SI Improvement Rate192
CHAPTER 5: Conclusion
5.1 Chapter Overview199
5.2 Research Questions Revisited and Answered199
5.4 Pedagogical Implications204
5.5 Suggestions for Further Research207
1.1 Chapter Overview
The present chapter outlines the whole work on a small scale. We will first look at a short introduction to and background of the problem, then the significance and purpose of the study will be briefly discussed and finally the questions, hypotheses, and theoretical framework of the present study along with the main limitation and delimitations will be stated.
Translation, considered in its broadest sense, is a practice, with a history thought to be as long as that of mankind, which has had tremendous influences upon man’s life throughout the history. The significance of such a practice in this day and age, duly termed as the age of communication, is far from disputable especially when one considers the role played by translation in all the communications that take place in various contexts. Therefore it is easy to see why the scientific study of translation has gained an unprecedented momentum over the past couple of decades.
No one can be sure when interpreting, in its broadest sense, was first undertaken by human beings. However, it is logical to assume that interpreting is definitely older than translation since the latter came into existence after the invention of some kind of writing system while the former could have existed before that. Pöchhacker (2005, p. 682) makes the following observation in this regard:
Interpreting as the activity of enabling or facilitating communication between speakers of different languages is a millennial practice, with earliest records dating back some five-thousand years (cf. Hermann 1956/2002).
However, for numerous reasons, to be elaborated on by researchers, translation has attracted much more attention in the history than interpreting. As Pöchhacker (2004, as cited in Pöchhacker, 2005, p. 683) states “In the history of scholarship on translation, few authors have reflected specifically on what we now call ‘interpreting’.” (my emphasis) The systematic study of interpreting is rare and cannot be claimed to be older than a number of decades (cf. Seleskovitch, 1999; Shaw et al., 2004; Riccardi, 2005; Pöchhacker, 2005; Lung & Li, 2005; Seeber & Zelger, 2007).
One reason for this could be that there exists a sort of widely-held misconception among people – laypeople to be more precise: anyone who knows two languages well enough can be a translator, and anyone who is a translator can be an interpreter. Schmitz (1988, pp. 273-274, as cited in Ibrahim, 2009, p. 358) makes the following observation regarding this chaotic situation:
Anyone can decide to use the title [translator/interpreter], however dim their consciousness may be of the intellectual equipment required for the jobs […]. If someone designs a building he does not call himself an architect unless he is qualified to do so […]. And yet anyone who thinks he knows a foreign language and can therefore translate, and who feels like earning a living that way full-time or part-time, can put an ad in the paper without more ado claiming to be a translator and interpreter.
In the post-World-War-II era and the 1950s, conference interpreting gained momentum and the first manuals and publications on related issues appeared (Seleskovitch, 1999; Riccardi, 2005). Seleskovitch (1999, p. 56) makes a mention of this unstated assumption prevailing at the time “Once you know languages, you should be fit to interpret.” This, however, is a wild claim that needs to be supported or rejected by data from research.
Yet, to the practicing translators and interpreters of our day, many decades now past that era, such statements seem far from true. Hamers et al. (2002, p. 587), for example, believe that “Simultaneous interpretation is a complex linguistic task, requiring specific cognitive skills” and that “While interpreters are highly competent bilinguals, they also have to perform a very demanding and unusual specific linguistic task.” They conclude that “Interpretation appears as an autonomous linguistic function that is acquired through training and that seems independent from the individual’s bilingual competence.” This is obviously indicative of the fact that it does not suffice to be a perfect bilingual in order to be an interpreter. Hans J. Vermeer’s remarks (as cited in Schmitt, 2012, p. 27) provide further proof in this regard:
T[ranslation] & I[nterpretation] training is not “foreign language acquisition” […] students must already have a high competence in their chosen working languages at the beginning of their studies. Higher education institutes of translation and interpreting are not “language schools,”
Although there are obvious similarities between the two, they seem to be totally different mental phenomena (Herbert, 1952) and “they can hardly be combined” (Ronald, 1982, as cited in Miremadi, 2004, p. 5). She also holds that very few people are indeed mentally capable of performing the task of interpreting. In line with this, Seleskovitch (1978, as quoted in Miremadi, 2004, p. 199) argues that “interpreting should not be considered the oral translation of words”.
Therefore such differences strongly call for research to be conducted in this field to shed some light on the nature of this task as well as its requirements.
1.3 Background of the Problem
One of the most important differences between translating and interpreting is what Mahmoodzadeh (2003) calls ‘the time factor’. Time can be termed an interpreter’s ‘nightmare’ or ‘biggest enemy’. Basically, the idea is that since there always exists a time constraint for the interpreter, i.e. the fact that he should listen to someone speaking in one language and render it in another language, there is always some kind of mental toughness involved in the task. This is manifest in Chernov’s (2004, p. 200) account of SI as “a specific type of professional interlingual activity performed in extreme linguistic and psychological conditions, in an environment hostile to the simultaneous interpreter.” (my emphasis) There are mental barriers to be overcome. This, along with other specificities of the task of interpreters, makes it an interesting issue to be investigated from a number of perspectives.
Some decades ago, translation, and by extension interpreting, were introduced into the academic circle in Iran. Translation has ever since been discussed by scholars who, not surprisingly, were not translation studies scholars on the outset, but went on to become such scholars on the ground that they were interested to scrutinize it in more rigorous and scientific terms.
Students doing an undergraduate program in the field of translation are required to do three courses on interpreting according to the academic curriculum. Sadly enough, however, field observations1 and personal experiences reveal the unpleasant fact that there are very few, if any at all, specifically-designed classroom material, activities, rating procedure etc. for these courses. This has led to a chaos with students and teachers not knowing what the real objectives of these courses are and how to achieve them.
This has resulted in an obvious inefficacy of these three courses to meet their objectives. Trainers seem to mistake these courses with other superficially similar but actually different courses such as ‘laboratory courses’, where the students are taken to a language lab to improve their listening-speaking skills in their B-language (English), or ‘audio-visual translation courses’ where they are taught about translation of movies and the like of it.
If translation is to be taken more seriously, then interpreting courses, materials, exercises etc. should also be redefined in light of research in the discipline.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The lack of textbooks, materials, rating schemes, selection procedures, etc. regarding SI can be in part due to the fact that it is “a relatively young profession” (Seeber & Zelger, 2007, p. 291; see also Seleskovitch, 1999; Shaw et al., 2004; Riccardi, 2005; Pöchhacker, 2005; Lung & Li, 2005), and a rather under-researched area (Dillinger, 1994; Shaw et al., 2004) within TS. And as Massaro and Shlesinger (1997, quoted in Lee, 2011, p. 158) have pointed out “one of the reasons why progress in the understanding of SI has been slow is that SI behavior is complex.” Shaw et al. (2004, p. 73) write “Although the literature on [interpretation] pedagogical issues is gaining ground, there are few empirical studies exploring the progression of student performance in class.” From what was said, it follows that research in the area of interpreting should be conducted in order to inform, among other things, education. Pedagogical concerns are thus of prime importance to present and prospective interpreting trainers.
The present study, through application of a number of interpreter-training-specific exercises, is an attempt to shed light on the effectiveness of such teaching activities to overcome these mental barriers. Such activities have been discussed at length in the literature on interpreting (see Chernov, 2004; Green et al., 1994; Kalina, 1992; Kurz, 1992; Moser-Mercer, 1997; Padilla & Martin, 1992; Pöchhacker, 2004). There are data-driven as well as theory-based arguments for and against each and every one of these exercises. However, they are applied as a package in this experiment to see whether or not they can positively affect the outcome of trainee interpreters.
These exercises include shadowing, improvisation, sight translation, divided-attention exercises, memory-improving exercises, anticipation exercises, (simultaneous) paraphrasing and the like. Each of these techniques can be done with many variations in the classroom raising and lowering the level of difficulty of the task to suit the trainees’ level of mental preparedness. They will be discussed in further detail in the next chapter.
A final note of caution to be sounded here is that the significance of this study does not lie in coming to a ‘yes’ in reply to the above-mentioned question, rather it lies in discussing the whys and wherefores of any result obtained in the end, and in coming to a better understanding of how interpreting education should be handled. Therefore even a ‘no’ should be deemed significant in paving the way for further research to be conducted with the same objective of devising an efficient practical model for the teaching of interpreting.
1.5 Purpose of the Study
The present research is an attempt to investigate, as objectively as possible, the effects of exposing trainees to interpreter-training-specific techniques on the quality of their performance in simultaneous interpreting. It will strive to verify or reject the effectiveness of such techniques in an interpreting class, using data obtained in the course of the experiment to be conducted.
Ultimately the researcher hopes the results of this study and others alike (to be carried out in the future) will prove useful in devising and/or refining curricula for interpreter training courses, as well as in developing efficient selection procedures for would-be interpreter trainees (whether in academic or non-academic institutions).
1.6 Research Questions
It is the intention of the present study to find answers to the following three questions. It is worthwhile to mention, however, that out of these three the first question is the main concern of the project and of prime importance to the researcher while the other two are regarded as side issues which, in the researcher’s eye, deserve attention:
Q.1 Is there a significant relation between the trainer’s application of interpreter-training-specific techniques and the trainees’ performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting?
Q.2 Is there a significant relation between the trainees’ multiple intelligences and their performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting?
This question is to be broken down into eight sub-questions each relating to one of the eight types of intelligence (Gardner, 1983) at issue.
Q.3 Is there a significant relation between the trainees’ personality type (extroversion-introversion) and their performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting?
This question, too, includes two further sub-questions: one relating to extroversion and the other introversion.
1.7 Research Hypotheses
To help answer the above-mentioned questions statistically, the following three null hypotheses were formulated:
H0.1 There is no significant relation between the trainer’s application of interpreter-training-specific techniques and the trainees’ performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting.
H0.2 There is no significant relation between the trainees’ multiple intelligences and their performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting.
As explained in the previous section on questions, this hypothesis too needs to be further divided into eight separate ones each pertaining to one of the eight different types of intelligence as theorized by Gardner (1983).
H0.3 There is no significant relation between the trainees’ personality type (extroversion-introversion) and their performance improvement in simultaneous interpreting.
Similarly, this hypothesis is to be divided into two sub-hypotheses each relating to one personality type.
1.8 Theoretical Framework
Chesterman and Williams (2002, p. 48) have observed that:
Any research makes use of a theoretical model of the object being studied, either explicitly or implicitly. So if we are studying translation, or the translating process, we need some preliminary model of this kind in order to orient ourselves, to give ourselves an initial framework within which we can begin to think.
They then move on to propose a threefold classification of the theoretical models traditionally used in Translation Studies: “comparative, process, and causal models” (Chesterman & Williams, 2002, p. 49). According to this classification, the present research falls under the last, which is the causal, model since we will be trying to establish some kind of cause-effect relationship.
On a larger scale, it could be said that the present work is conducted within the framework of ‘cognitivism’ since we are looking at interpreting as a cognitive struggle demanding certain mental capabilities (cf. Lambert, 1988; Daró, 1994; Fabbro & Gran, 1994; Klonowicz, 1994; Lambert, 1994; Gile, 1995; Déjean Le Féal, 1997; Al-Khanji et al., 2000; Hamers et al., 2002; Lee, 2002; Mizuno, 2005; Pöchhacker, 2005; Seeber & Zelger, 2007).
Among the most important approaches emerging in the 1980s and the 1990s were those adopted by Lambert (1988) and Gile (1995) both within
[…] the paradigm that described and analyzed interpreting as a cognitive process. Lambert focused on the necessity of developing the component skills in an interpreter education program, and Gile has dealt with the difficulties of processing capacity management. (Shaw et al., 2004, p. 73)
The theoretical discussions and conceptual elaborations in the present study are mostly within the framework of Gile’s (1995) ‘Effort Model’ of interpreting. And the pedagogical approach adopted falls within Lambert’s framework of interpreter education which is centered on development of the component skills.
In discussions pertaining to the second question of the study, i.e. the possible relation between one’s multiple intelligences and their simultaneous interpreting potentials, we will be discussing things within the framework of ‘Multiple Intelligences Theory’ as proposed by Howard Gardner (1983).
1.9 Limitations and Delimitations
To carry out experimental research per se, regardless of the topic, the treatment, the participants, the experiment time period, etc. means that one is faced with numerous obstacles to overcome from the very beginning of the research project, particularly when it is in a society where research has not yet come to receive the recognition it deserves; neither from the general public nor even from the scholarly people at times.
Prior to embarking on an experimental research project, the main issue one has to bear in mind is that of feasibility: scarcity of resources required, be it money, time, space, equipment, subjects willing to cooperate, etc. have more often than not prevented keen researchers from either launching an experimental research project in the first place or pursuing it along as initially designed, hence distorting validity, reliability, or generalizability of the findings. This can very well explain why at times reliability or fruitfulness of experimental research designs is questioned. Amongst the arguments against experimental research designs are also unnaturalness of the settings as well as the presence and intervention of the researcher, which all work against validity and reliability of research findings.
Monti et al. (2005) maintain that the body of knowledge on interpreting has been increasing steadily through observational and experimental studies, based on case-studies or limited samples of data, which have produced insightful results.
Touching on two main types of empirical investigations, Riccardi (2005) compares and contrasts case studies and experimental studies. By case studies, she means “those studies whose objective is the description or evaluation of consecutive or simultaneous interpretations when they occur in their ‘natural’ environment” (Riccardi, 2005, p. 759). In such studies, one starts with a thorough description of the event and then embarks on analyzing it in detail. While these studies ay help validate, confute or question existing theories and may point to new research ground, a major drawback is that they cannot be replicated nor can the results be generalized. Experimental studies, the term experimental referring to the artificial, laboratory conditions in which they are carried out, enjoy the advantage that the variables are chosen and kept under control by the researcher and specific hypotheses may be tested on a sample of subjects. Therefore replication and generalizability are possible. However, “the greatest drawback of experimental studies is their lack of ecological validity; the communicative setting is missing or at least many variables are not present” (Riccardi, 2005, p. 759).
Even so, the necessity of conducting experimental research is far from questionable. There are obviously certain research areas which fall outside the scope of other research designs (descriptive, conceptual, etc.). There are given questions that other research designs fall short of answering. Therefore, in spite of all the shortcomings and difficulties involved in conducting experimental research, there is no denying that they are inevitable if light is to be shed on certain issues. Research projects with a didactic approach, like the present study, typically call for an experimental design. What researchers should do is to take measures to counter the effects of the shortcomings and remove the barriers so that, to the extent possible, feasibility conditions are met and reliability is ensured.
The first, and normally the greatest, problem in most experimental studies is finding participants who meet the conditions and who are willing to take part in a research project. We had to find over one hundred subjects since we could anticipate that the fatality rate (subjects who would be left out in the course of the experiment) due to numerous reasons (see chapter 3) would be high. This was specifically important because the experiment was designed to last for one academic year (two semesters). We had to make sure that enough subjects (at least sixty) would remain in the study. As to the subjects to be placed in the experimental group, there was not a big problem since I was going to teach three classes doing ‘interpretation 2’ (and ‘interpretation 3’ in the subsequent semester) at Allameh Tabataba’i University. The treatment was the teaching and the SI posttest was to be taken as their final exam. The extra things they had to do were a G.E. test, an SI pretest, and two tests of MI and personality type. As they were mostly keen students, the majority were willing to participate.
As for the control group subjects, I spent a long time trying to find appropriate subjects. Finally a colleague of mine told me about a friend who was teaching three classes of ‘interpretation 2’ (and ‘interpretation 3’ in the subsequent semester) at Karaj Azad University. Arrangements were made and as she herself was a Ph.D. candidate, she was understanding and kind enough to cooperate wholeheartedly throughout the experiment. To make sure that the subjects took things seriously, it was decided that these steps would be considered as part of their course assignments.
The other challenging difficulty was administration of the SI tests (pretest and posttest). The tests had to be administered individually in a private room without any sort of distraction. This was such a time-consuming process and oftentimes finding a suitable room was very difficult.
Evaluation of the SI sessions posed another challenge. One rater’s judgment would not suffice; at least three raters were needed. It was a most challenging task to find three qualified raters (experienced interpreters and/or interpreter trainers) who would be willing to spend a great deal of time rating one hundred and forty different SI sessions each lasting for five minutes (a total of 700 minutes of SI equaling some 12 hours!). From among many professionals who were called upon to score the SI sessions, two raters, both practicing interpreters one working for Press TV and the other in Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, eventually agreed to cooperate. In spite of the fact that due to validity considerations, it is undesirable, the researcher himself had to act as one of the three judges since finding a third judge seemed almost impossible. The two other raters were paid to score the SI sessions so that we could make sure the scoring would be done carefully.
This notwithstanding, it was deemed necessary to make a compromise with regards to the scoring procedure; the researcher’s personal experience showed that the more complicated and detailed the scoring scheme, the less reliable the scores would be. The bitter truth, like it or not, is that other raters do not feel as committed and dedicated as the researcher himself does. Thus, they tend to dislike complicated scoring schemes. There were so many SI sessions to be scored in this study (one hundred and forty SI sessions each lasting for approximately five minutes). In addition to this, it was not the intention of this study to analyze, compare or contrast the various aspects of the quality of the subjects’ SI performance, but rather it attempted to evaluate the overall quality of their SI performance and the extent to which they could improve their performance in general within the experiment period. By no means should this be taken to mean that we do not recognize the multi-facetedness of SI quality and see it as a unified whole, rather it was a compromise made in order to do away with the unnecessarily laborious rigmarole of a lengthy, broken-down, itemized, detailed scoring scheme, which would have no added value in view of the purpose of this study, and instead to increase the reliability of the obtained scores by using a more practical, rater-friendly, holistic approach to the scoring procedure.
Fortunately, the high level of inter-rater reliability observed in this study (r = 0.79), meant that there was a high agreement among the judges with regard to the quality of the SI sessions and that the scores could be relied on to accurately reflect the trainees’ performance in the SI (pre- and post-)tests.
Review of the
Simultaneous interpretation, an irrational system
The assumption equating translation of language meanings and interpretation also explains the invention of simultaneous interpretation. The latter was first used on a large scale at the Nuremberg Trials; it then developed beyond the political sphere into the fields of economics, sports, finance, manufacturing industries, transport, etc. It finally superseded consecutive in many domains.
(Seleskovitch, 1999, p. 57)
2.1 Chapter Overview
In this chapter, we will try to review the existing literature on some of the most important and commonly used terms and concepts relating to the areas dealt with in this work. These include interpreting in its various forms, simultaneous interpreting in particular, interpreter training, training techniques such as sight translation, shadowing exercises, split-attention exercises, anticipation exercises, memory-improvement exercises, improvisation exercises, paraphrasing exercises, etc.
We will also take a very brief look at the literature on multiple intelligences and personality types.
2.2 Interpreting: Definition and Modes
While being an old profession in the world, interpretation serves the purpose of making possible the cross-cultural, cross-lingual, cross-national communication in this day and age. Given the fact that the twenty first century is seen as the age of communication, it is easy to see why translation, in general, and all its modes and forms including interpreting has gained and is gaining unprecedented impetus over the past couple of decades.
Interpreters are experts who not only convert the words of a language into another but also convey ideas and concepts (Seleskovitch, 1999) between languages, cultures, and peoples, thus making communication possible. To do so, they need to have a good command of linguistic skills purporting to the languages from and into which they work, communicative and interpreting skills, and subject matter specificities. This obviously puts a great amount of demand on interpreters. That is most probably the reason why the 1950s and 1960s saw translation and interpretation schools emerge and flourish rapidly (Pöchhacker, 2004). They strove to train interpreters who possessed such varied skills and abilities required. As a natural result, the scholarly studies of translation and interpretation also gained importance.
Interpreting is different from translation in that it involves oral input of the source language and oral output of the target language rather than written input and output of the source and target languages. This, however, sounds like only scratching the surface; there is more to it than meets the eye. Interpreting is a sophisticated cognitive task which, broadly speaking consists of at least three major components: listening or comprehension, reformulation or deverbalization (Seleskovitch, 1975, as cited in Isham, 1994), and finally production or oral rendering. This means that basically an interpreter listens to the ST to comprehend the message, gets rid of the SL form (words, phrases, structures, etc.) or deverbalizes the message, and orally produces the TT, which is the reformulated message in TL. Touching upon the peculiar temporal characteristics of SI, Chernov (2004, p. 15) shows how SI is considerably different from all other forms of translation and interpretation:
Research into the temporal parameters of SI clearly reveals two of the extreme conditions obtaining in SI: the concurrent nature of SL speech perception and TL speech production and the need to start the translation process before the SL utterance is completed. On these two parameters alone SI differs radically from all other kinds of translation and interpretation, written or oral. (my emphasis)
This is a very broad picture of what an interpreter’s job involves. However, what makes the study of interpreting difficult, or even sometimes elusive, is the complexity (Lambert, 1988; Daró, 1994; Fabbro & Gran, 1994; Klonowicz, 1994; Lambert, 1994; Gile, 1995; Déjean Le Féal, 1997; Al-Khanji et al., 2000; Hamers et al., 2002; Lee, 2002; Mizuno, 2005; Pöchhacker, 2005; Seeber & Zelger, 2007) of these three components, the operation of these mental tasks, and the cognitive efforts (Gile, 1995) required for the operation of these three tasks and the coordination of them.
Unfamiliarity with the cognitive processes of interpreting and lack of theoretical background can make problems both for trainers and trainees. It is oftentimes the case that both parties are to a great extent unaware of the mental processes happening inside the head of the interpreter. The trainees see a professional undertaking the task of interpreting successfully but do not know how to do it themselves. The trainers, on the other hand, may be able to perform well themselves but fail to provide standardized methods for helping trainees overcome the mental barriers they are faced with.
Not surprisingly, there are various ways of classifying different forms of interpreting based on when, where, how, and for whom the interpreting is carried out. There is not even consensus over the precise definition of the terms ‘type’, ‘mode’, ‘form’, ‘modality’ etc. and different scholars view them differently. Such disagreements, however, are not of interest to us as embarking on a lengthy, in-depth, theoretical analysis to delineate these terms and concepts is obviously outside the scope of the present study and is a fitting topic for more conceptual research designs. Being of an applied nature, the present study is interested in no more than touching upon some of the common terms predominantly used and generally-agreed-upon in relevant research publications. Thus, the terms ‘type’, ‘form’, and ‘mode’ are used loosely and interchangeably here.
In a very broad categorization, two basic types of interpreting can be identified: simultaneous interpreting (SI) and consecutive interpreting (CI). Other modes of interpreting include sight translation (ST), simultaneous interpreting with text, liaison interpreting, whispering, and escort interpreting. We will now turn to these different forms and provide a short explanation for each.
2.2.1 Simultaneous Interpreting
“SI was first used on a large scale at the Nuremberg Trials; it then developed beyond the political sphere into the fields of economics, sports, finance, manufacturing industries, transport, etc.” (Seleskovitch, 1999, p. 57) It finally came to replace consecutive which had previously been the prevailing mode in many domains.
In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter continuously receives and comprehends the new input while simultaneously deverbalizing (Seleskovitch, 1975, as cited in Isham, 1994) it and producing the output in the target language. So the simultaneous interpreter has to handle several tasks at the same time (Lambert, 1988), which requires coordination of different cognitive efforts. The interpreter sits inside a booth, which has to meet certain requirements (e.g. being sound-proof, having a good view of the speaker, etc.), and wears a headset comprising headphones, through which he listens to the speaker, and a microphone, into which he utters his rendering of the ST. At the same time as the interpreter is interpreting the speech into the microphone on his headset, the audience can listen to the interpretation through the headphones they are equipped with.
According to Hendricks (1971, p. 7, cited in Al-Khanji et al., 2000, p. 550), the SI process involves the following four stages:
1. Listening, i.e., perception of sounds.
2. Comprehension, i.e., grasping the sense of the sounds.
3. Translation, i.e., transforming the sense into the corresponding linguistic units or into another language.
4. Phonation, i.e., articulating, producing the new speech utterance.
Henderson (1982, p. 149, quoted in Al-Khanji et al., 2000, pp. 549-550), on the other hand maintains that SI involves three phases:
1. The listening to another person element, which comes first both logically and chronologically, the raw material the interpreter gathers and from which he devises his output.
2. Where the problem lies, what exactly happens? How is it done? The interpreter’s business is not words but ideas or message elements. Only in the most elementary cases can simultaneous interpretation be conceived as a simple transposition of source-language utterances. The interpreter is continually involved in evaluating, filtering and editing (information, not words) in order to make sense of the incoming message and to ensure that his output, too, makes sense.
3. The active form of spontaneous speech. He clarifies that in phase 2, simultaneous interpretation differs radically from the familiar processes of spontaneous speech where he gives verbal form to our own thoughts, while the message the interpreter handles comes from an outside source; the interpreter is attending to two different activities at the same time and must pay attention to the incoming message and also give conscious and critical attention to his own speech