Quality in interpreting

Sylvia Kalina
Table of contents

When people communicate in a multilingual setting, they are often assisted by interpreters and rely on the quality of their service if they do not speak or understand the foreign language. What is regarded as the quality of interpreters’ service depends on whether the setting is balanced and unidirectional, as is usually the case in conferences and similar events mostly interpreted in the simultaneous mode, or asymmetrical and bidirectional, as in typical community settings such as social and healthcare interpreting where short consecutive and whispering is used. In the former case the focus is on the quality of what an interpreter produces, i.e. his/her output in terms of content, language, and delivery. In the latter, interactional competencies and discourse management are crucial as the interpreter often acts as a gate-keeper (Wadensjö 1998: 67). In a wider sense, quality also refers to interpreter reliability, compliance with principles of professional ethics, empathy and trustworthiness. Management of interpreting assignments is gaining significance, and in the future professional interpreters working in all types of settings will be expected to provide evidence of their own quality assurance system. Quality expectations of users may differ depending on setting, e.g. legal settings where interpreting is expected to be verbatim as against a community setting where the interpreter acts as mediator and assumes a more active role.

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