Consecutive interpreting

Authored by: Yashyuan Jin (Michael)

The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Translation

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138938267
eBook ISBN: 9781315675725
Adobe ISBN:


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Consecutive interpreting (CI) is a versatile form of verbal translation between languages. With or without taking notes, an interpreter begins to deliver messages in a target language when a speaker pauses his/her speech or conversation. It was the default interpreting service in the United Nations before technology became available to enable simultaneous interpreting (SI) in 1927 (Flerov 2013). Although CI has become less central in conferences and meetings of larger scale, it is still in demand elsewhere, mainly due to its lower technological requirements than SI. It is practised by professional as well as non-professional interpreters with limited training and proficiency, such as interpreters in conflict zones (Baker 2010). Different user groups in different settings naturally have different needs and expectations from their interpreters from different training backgrounds. Andrè Kaminker was said to receive rounds of applause after virtuoso CI for an hour without taking any notes (Jalón 2004: 46). However, most interpreters’ memory can be seriously stretched when note-taking is prohibited or discouraged for reasons of confidentiality. Among other things, the requirement for an interpreter to mediate but not dominate or guide communication, to take notes while a speaker delivers a speech at speed, to read the notes while planning a target-language (TL) version on the fly, and to be economical with words without losing the intended impact on end users all create challenges in practice, training (Sawyer 2004) and research.

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