The Linguist

The Linguist 53,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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20 The Linguist APRIL/MAY FEATURES Rejected by the EU, UN and many academics, retour interpreting is used increasingly widely around the world. Eva-Maria Lohwasser tries to plug the research gap Retour interpreting is as old as our profession itself, but it is now being used more than ever and, as such, is increasingly important. Retour refers to work from a mother tongue or A language into a second or B language. For liaison interpreting this is an unavoidable and vital skill, but in the context of conference and simultaneous interpreting there is disagreement over whether it is appropriate, with many arguing that the quality of output suffers. As a German interpreter based in the UK, I feel as comfortable working into English as I do working into my mother tongue. Being immersed in an English-speaking environment develops confidence and fluency to an extent that both languages seem viable working languages. Retour is common, even for conference interpreting, yet the largest users of simultaneous interpreters worldwide – the EU, UN and other large international organisations – do not use this approach as standard. This was my starting point when I decided to research retour for an Interpreting MA at the University of Central Lancashire. Judging quality There has been a vast amount of research into quality assessment in interpreting. According to Jorge Arevalillo, 'quality = user satisfaction'. 1 Sylvia Kalina used the model 'quality = successful communication', 2 in which a good interpreter ensures that their listeners understand exactly the same things as listeners of the original. Daniel Gile defined the most cited parameters as ideational clarity, linguistic acceptability, terminological accuracy, fidelity, acceptability and professional behaviour. 3 Kalina argued that quality in interpreting is always a dilemma between faithfulness and comprehensibility, correct language use and accuracy, and elegant style and completeness. These choices also define the two opposing schools of thought within retour interpreting: while the Russian school insists that an interpreter must understand 100 percent of the original speech in order to achieve the most truthful interpretation, the Paris school is convinced that a perfect rendition in one's mother tongue is paramount. According to a study by Hildegund Bühler, the concerns of users and interpreters do not necessarily match. While interpreters were concerned with native accent, pleasant voice, fluent delivery, completeness and correct grammar, users attached greater importance to sense consistency, logical cohesion and correct terminology. 4 Another survey concluded that most users associate quality with an accurate, fluent, fast and convincing rendition, and poor quality with awkward intonation, hesitations and wrong use of terminology. 5 Overall, clients seem to pay little attention to directionality issues as long as their quality criteria are fulfilled. New research Based on existing research, I identified six criteria that seemed most relevant to ensuring quality in retour interpreting. I then conducted a widespread questionnaire, as well as focused interviews with a quality expert and a highly- experienced conference interpreter. The most significant insight was the importance placed on these criteria, with respondents listing them in the following order: 1 Clear rendition of main message 2 Interpreter confidence 3 Quality of voice 4 Speed of rendition 5 Rendition of all nuances 6 Accent-free rendition In the right direction? CONFERENCE CALL Eva-Maria at work

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