This paper addresses the topic of quality assessment in interpreting, from a perspective that defines quality as equivalent effect of source text and target text. The experimental study described uses an innovative methodology based on comprehension testing, to evaluate the widely accepted norm that an interpretation should produce the same effect — in the sense of effect on the listener’s knowledge of a specific subject — as the original. More specifically, the study compares communicative effect between a marketing-related speech of about 15 minutes in non-native English and its simultaneous interpretation into German. The comparison is thus between two directly competing modes of communication, the use of English as a lingua franca being seen by many interpreters as a threat to their profession. Three experimental runs were completed, involving an Italian speaker comfortable with English as a medium for lecturing and a total of 139 listeners attending professionally oriented Austrian university courses. Results showed that in this setting the interpretation led to a better cognitive end-result in the audience than the original speech in non-native English.
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