Does interpreter location make a difference?
A study of remote vs face-to-face interpreting in simulated police interviews
Remote interpreting has traditionally been the less preferred option when compared to face-to-face interpreting. But the recent pandemic has shifted the landscape, making remote interpreting the default in many, if not most, settings. Improved videoconferencing technologies have facilitated this transition. The main question is whether remote interpreting has any impact on interpreter performance, including interpreting accuracy. This article presents the results of an experimental study that compared the performance of 103 qualified interpreters in three language combinations (English + Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish) in three conditions (face-to-face vs video remote vs audio remote interpreting) in the context of simulated police interviews. The interpreters’ preferences and perceptions were elicited and analysed, and their performance assessed by independent trained raters using detailed marking criteria. The results showed no significant differences between face-to-face and video interpreting, but significant decrements in audio remote interpreting performance. More than one-third of the interpreters perceived remote interpreting as being more difficult due to technological challenges. No differences emerged between the language groups on any measure.
Keywords: interpreting accuracy, interactional management, video interpreting, telephone interpreting
- 2.Telephone remote interpreting
- 3.Video remote interpreting
- 4.The present study: Research questions
- 5.2Research design
- 5.3Interview simulation materials
- 5.5Assessment of interpreting performance
- 6.1Interpreters’ experience in remote interpreting
- 6.2Interpreter performance
- 6.2.1Interpreter performance by interpreter location and language
- 6.2.2Interpreters’ professional competence by interpreter location and language
- 6.2.3Interpreters’ general preferences
- 6.2.4Interpreters’ perceptions of the interpreting task
- 6.2.5Perceptions of interviewers and interviewees of interpreters’ performances according to interpreter location
- 7.1Strengths and limitations
- 8.Conclusions and recommendations
Published online: 31 March 2022
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