Elisabet TISELIUS, Interpreting Research

Can you really do research on interpreting?

You are not the only interpreter colleague who has asked me that question. When I enthusiastically start explaining what has been done and what can be done, I can see that sometimes I lose you immediately, and some other time I can see a spark of interest in your eye. You often argue that it is not possible to investigate interpreting academically, that it is a craft, a skill that is refined and maybe to some point an innate talent. In those cases I contradict you of course, I will tell you that there are so many things you can investigate in interpreting: the interpreter, of course, but also pedagogy or work environment for instance. And since interpreting is a young discipline there are many areas left to explore.

Just as I touch upon in the clip, I often think that there is a gap between the research and the profession in interpreting. It is not as for medical doctors or dentists who regularly attend scientific conferences to learn about new findings in medicine. If interpreters participate in a scientific conference it is as interpreters and not as participants. I’m sure we learn a lot, but not about our own profession.

Translators have many opportunities for professional development, and admittedly there are a few for interpreters as well. AIIC, for instance, regularly organizes different courses for adding or perfecting languages or aimed at interpreting teachers.

What is there to learn about interpreting, you may ask, other than being on task and actually interpreting. You can learn a new language of course, but when it comes to interpreting research, what’s in it for me, as a professional?

Thanks to research into interpreting we can tell our clients that if the booth is too hot or if there is no air in the booth we don’t perform as well as we could. We knew that intuitively before of course, but no doubt it is easier argued if it has been scientifically proven, right? I also mention other results in my speech such research on lag, speed and intonation.

There are of course many more things that we know, but also many more things to learn. Interpreting research is still young. There is no way I could cover everything that has been done in interpreting research in this short article or in the You Tube video, but I hope that you would like to hear more and if you do I can recommend a few other sources I have found a useful way into research myself.

AIIC’s training committee organized two research seminars in 2012 which I recommend. http://aiic.net/page/3805/aiic-training-committee-interpreting-research-seminars/lang/1

They also have a few good articles on interpreting research, they are a little bit dated, but still good. This one by Daniel Gile and Andrew Dawrant http://aiic.net/page/341/interpreting-research/lang/1

And the one by Matthew Perret on research and interpreting training, an o-so-important matter http://aiic.net/page/2687/interpreting-studies-research-and-interpreter-training-worlds-apart/lang/1

The book I talk about in the clip is:

Pöchhacker, Franz. 2004. Introducing Interpreting Studies. London & New York: Routledge. http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Interpreting-Studies-Franz-P%C3%B6chhacker/dp/0415268877

[If you have any questions, or would like more literature tips, don’t hesitate to contact me at: e.tiselius@ aiic.net]

3 thoughts on “Elisabet TISELIUS, Interpreting Research

  1. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Feb 14-20) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

  2. Of course! I should have added it, in the text. It was not in print when we recorded the talk. I’m already using it in my teaching. It is both a very thorough overview of methods in interpreting research and a hands on manual. One of my bachelor student is using the chapter on surveys with a lot of enthusiasm. It is really accessible for both students and even seasoned researchers trying new methods. Thanks Jemina for the kind words and for adding the reference to your (and Sandra’s book).


  3. Great article and clip on doing interpreting research Elisabeth! In addition to the books and articles you have recommended there is also a new book out:

    Hale, S. & Napier, J. (2013). Interpreting Research Methods: A practical resource. London: Bloomsbury.

    The book is targeted at masters or phd students, early career researchers and also interpreter ‘practisearchers’ wanting to do research specifically on spoken or signed language interpreting


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