The song in the booth
Formulaic interpreting and oral textualisation
This article applies the notion of formulaic language production, crucial to studies of oral cultures and specifically to the composition of the Homeric poems, to simultaneous interpreting. The definition of the Homeric formula presented by Milman Parry is adjusted to fit the SI context. It is argued that formulaic language production enhances the homogeneity of the SI output and, in an EU context, also that of individual booths, as interpreters tend to borrow formulaic phrases from colleagues. This process, which is seen as part of the overall creation of EU discourse, is connected to the concept of oral textualisation, also borrowed from Homeric studies. The study specifically discusses the Danish booth in the Joint Interpretation Service of the European Commission, and demonstrates the existence of formulas in an experiment in which ten Danish colleagues interpreted the same English and German speeches. The aesthetic and normative definitions of the formula as stereotype in, among others, Seleskovitch is discussed.
Keywords: Homer, formulaic language production, oral textualisation, EU discourse, simultaneous interpreting, orality studies
Published online: 01 June 2007
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