Assessing the fidelity of consecutive interpreting
The effects of using source versus target text as the reference material
The study reported on in this article pertains to rater-mediated assessment of English-to-Chinese consecutive interpreting, particularly informational correspondence between an originally intended message and an actually rendered message, also known as “fidelity” in Interpreting Studies. Previous literature has documented two main methods to assess fidelity: comparing actual renditions with the source text or with an exemplar rendition carefully prepared by experts (i.e., an ideal target text). However, little is known about the potential effects of these methods on fidelity assessment. We therefore conducted the study to explore the way in which these methods would affect rater reliability, fidelity ratings and rater perception. Our analysis of quantitative data shows that the raters tended to be less reliable, less self-consistent, less lenient and less comfortable when using the source English text (i.e., Condition A) than when using the target Chinese text (i.e., Condition B: the exemplar rendition). These findings were backed up and explained by emerging themes derived from the qualitative questionnaire data. The fidelity estimates in the two conditions were also found to be strongly correlated. We discuss these findings and entertain the possibility of recruiting untrained monolinguals or bilinguals to assess fidelity of interpreting.
Keywords: fidelity, consecutive interpreting, rater-mediated assessment, source text, target text
Published online: 05 February 2021
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