Parliamentary impoliteness and the interpreter’s gender
Impoliteness is a common phenomenon across various democratically elected parliaments. However, in multilingual legislative bodies such as the European Parliament speakers have to rely on interpreters to transfer pragmatic meaning, including face-threatening acts and impoliteness. The existing research in the field of Interpreting Studies offers much evidence of the filtering effect that interpreting may have on impoliteness, through facework strategies introduced by interpreters. The main question here is whether female interpreters tend to mitigate grave, intentional impoliteness to a greater degree than male interpreters. My analysis of a large corpus composed of English-Polish interpretations of speeches by Eurosceptic MEPs shows that mitigation of impoliteness by interpreters is a widespread phenomenon. The illocutionary force of original statements is often modified by means of diverse interpreting strategies. However, the quantitative analysis of interpreter facework does not reveal a statistically significant gender-based difference in the distribution of approaches towards impoliteness.
Keywords: impoliteness, face-threatening acts, simultaneous interpreting, mitigation, genderlect, European Parliament
Published online: 26 November 2019
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