Conference interpreting and knowledge acquisition
How professional interpreters tackle unfamiliar topics
This paper describes knowledge acquisition of professional conference interpreters in Taiwan when dealing with unfamiliar topics: the focus is on how the required knowledge is developed before, during and after a conference. We interviewed 10 Chinese-English interpreters, to find out about their preparation for such conferences and their approach to developing domain-specific knowledge. We first collected each interpreter’s five latest conference programs and used these to analyze the knowledge domains covered. We then based each interview on one conference agenda, considered representative by the interpreter, to examine the knowledge acquisition process from pre- to post-conference. The results show strategic preparation of unfamiliar topics: to facilitate comprehension and reformulation, interpreters make good use of conference documents and compile glossaries in which they organize the concepts and terminology specific to the conference. As they assimilate the language usage of the presenters and other participants during the conference, they use their analytical skills to manage any difficulties. Keeping in mind the aims of the event (e.g., commercial, scientific), as well as the profiles of the speakers and target audience, helps to optimize availability of relevant knowledge at short notice and continue updating it during the assignment.
Keywords: conference interpreting, conference preparation, knowledge acquisition
Published online: 24 September 2018
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