Hedges in conference interpreting
The role of gender
This paper, part of a project on gender differences in simultaneous interpreting, analyzes possible gender-related trends in the use of hedges by professional interpreters and examines two hypotheses: (1) simultaneous interpretations, because of processing constraints, contain fewer hedges than the original speeches; (2) consistent with gender differences in spontaneous speech, women interpreters use more hedges than men. The research draws on Ghent University’s EPICG corpus of speeches at the European Parliament and their interpretations. Here, French speeches recorded in 2008 were compared with their English and Dutch interpretations in respect of hedging frequency. Statistical comparison was based on the chi-squared test. With regard to the first hypothesis, comparison of normalized frequencies (occurrences per 1000 words) shows that the interpreters in both language combinations used significantly more hedges than the speakers. The second hypothesis was tested by comparing data according to interpreters’ gender, factoring in the frequency of hedges in the source texts: women interpreters hedged more than men in both target languages, significantly so in Dutch. Regarding strategies that might account for the interpreters’ use of hedges (omission, translation, addition), the women interpreters made more additions than the men. Possible reasons for these patterns are discussed.
Keywords: gender, simultaneous conference interpreting, corpus-based studies, hedges
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