The influence of directionality of French and English interpreters at the Pan-African Parliament

Koumba, Christian
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As Herbert indicates (1952:82), “it is quite clear that in diplomatic conference the greatest attention should be paid to all nuances of words; while in gathering of scholars, technical accuracy will have greater importance; in a literary and artistic gathering, elegance of speech; and in a political assembly, forcefulness of expression.” This study aims to assess the impact of directionality on French and English interpreters working for the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). Directionality is whether interpreters should work from their B language or acquired language, into their A language or their native language (AIIC: 1999). Supporters of B-to-A interpreting indicate that interpreters are not at ease cognitively when interpreting from the A language into the B language due to more effort required to find corresponding expressions in their B language (e.g., Donovan, 2003; Seleskovitch, 1999). Those in favour of A-to-B interpreting, on the other hand, affirm that interpreters’ better comprehension of their native language may help them produce a more complete and reliable interpretation (Denissenko, 1989; Williams, 1995). This study explores the performance of French/English simultaneous interpreters in both directions by focusing on norms and strategies. The data for the study was gathered by means of questionnaire interviews and the recording of ten professional interpreters’ simultaneous interpretation performance during the Pan-African sessions and committees which took place in October 2013. The simultaneous interpreting processes of interpreters were analysed according to certain norms such as: accuracy, fluency and quality, and according to the strategies that they customise to avoid the traps contained in the source speeches of the parliamentarians. This study will assess whether or not French/English interpreters at the Pan-African Parliament do their work accordingly and with confidence when they are required to interpret in both directions. Directionality has to be understood well for interpreters to deliver quality interpreting required for good communication amongst parliamentarians.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Humanities, School of Literature, Language and Media (Translation and Interpreting Studies), 2014
Directionality, native language, acquired language, interpreting norms