Book reviewThe Routledge Handbook of Interpreting 456 pp.London: Routledge, 2015.
Reviewed by Lihua Jiang
Hunan Normal University
The fact that globalization comes with an increasing need for qualified and well-trained interpreters has recently strengthened interest in interpreting as a field of academic study. Several encyclopedias and handbooks exist already in the area of translation studies; think of The Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (Baker and Saldanha 2009Baker, Mona, and Gabriela Saldanha eds. 2009 Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies. Second edition. London: Routledge. ), The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies (Malmkjær and Windle 2011Malmkjær, Kirsten, and Kevin Windle eds. 2011 The Oxford Handbook of Translation Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ), or The Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies (Millán and Bartrina 2013Millán, Carmen, and Francesca Bartrina eds. 2013 The Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies. London: Routledge. ). The publication of the encyclopedic handbook of interpreting under review here is therefore to be welcomed as a sign of the maturity of the discipline. The subjects covered by this volume range from the history of the interpreting profession and the different modes of interpreting to the frequently-discussed issues in this field, giving readers a historical and synchronic survey of the development and evolution of interpreting, and of the complex array of themes, theoretical approaches and methodologies in this research field.
The introduction and conclusion left aside, the book is organized into four parts: I. Historical perspectives, II. Modes of interpreting, III. Interpreting settings, and IV. Issues and debates.
Part I of the book describes interpreting from historical perspectives and looks at professional organizations, international employers, and researchers. Jesús Baigorri-Jalón traces interpreting from Ancient Egypt and China to the first use of simultaneous interpreting technology at the Nuremburg Trials, and then further to the latest remote interpreting scenario. Julie Boéri looks at key internal players of interpreting, including the roles of professional organizations, training bodies and the academic community, while Sofía García-Beyaert uses case studies to show the external factors involved in interpreting. In the final chapter of Part I, Franz Pöchhacker addresses the evolution of interpreting research, lists research paradigms in history (e.g., the Paris School’s Interpretative Theory Paradigm, the Post-Trieste’s Neurolinguistic Paradigm and Cognitive-Pragmatic Paradigm) and presents major topics in this field (e.g., memory, performance, aptitude, teaching, role, technology), which will later form the structure of Part IV.
Part II focuses on the different modalities of interpreting. Not only does this part include the traditional modes such as simultaneous and consecutive, but also the more recent signed language interpreting, sight translation, and transcription. Kilian G. Seeber discusses the complexity and difficulty of simultaneous interpreting and the factors contributing to these features. She also addresses the underlying constructs of simultaneous interpreting in the regard of memory, bilingualism, and directionality before describing the major problems in this mode (e.g., speed, numbers, syntax, accents). Kayoko Takeda and Debra Russell present various (e.g., cognitive and linguistic) issues that influence consecutive interpreting, and highlight the importance of good note-taking, as well as the role of consecutive interpreting in interpreter training. The next two chapters are about signed language interpreting research. Karen Bontempo’s chapter offers a general picture of this mode, while Jemina Napier focuses on the way in which signed language interpreting differs from spoken language interpreting. The presence of these two chapters shows the increasing visibility and importance of signed language interpreting in the interpreting research community. Wallace Chen’s contribution on sight translation examines how this mode differs from written translation; it describes sight translation from pedagogical and practical perspectives, and proposes a number of innovative pedagogical and theoretical implications. In the final chapter, Carmen Valero-Garcés discusses transcription and translation of spoken discourse in various settings, and examines the theoretical and practical issues involved in transcribing and translating for different purposes.
Part III comprises articles about the specialized settings in which interpreters work. In addition to the more developed conference interpreting scenario, this part covers a variety of interpreter-mediated communication scenarios, including court interpreting, interpreting in asylum proceedings, community interpreting, healthcare interpreting, interpreting in mental healthcare, etc. Ebru Diriker gives an overview of conference interpreting and its professionalization process with a particular focus on international organizations; she also presents an array of key studies in this field. In the following chapter, Jieun Lee introduces court interpreting by defining key terms and describes the specific aptitude and competence of court interpreters. Other topics include the different legal systems in which interpreters are engaged, the demanding nature of court interpreting, court interpreter certification, training, and professional status. In the next chapter, Sonja Pöllabauer examines the particular type of interpreting which occurs in asylum proceedings and explores frequently-researched topics in this field, such as the interpreter’s role and training, language choice in asylum interviews, and linguistic, cultural, and psychological aspects of asylum hearings. The next chapter starts with Marjory A. Bancroft’s list of different terms confusingly given to the field of community-based interpreting, such as public service interpreting, liaison interpreting, dialogue interpreting, cultural interpreting, and discourse interpreting, to name a few. Due to its unclear position within the research field of interpreting, community-based interpreting has developed a great variety of denominations with different conceptual components and focuses. Some degree of initial agreement has been reached on its difference from conference interpreting (e.g., Pöchhacker 2004Pöchhacker, Franz 2004 Introducing Interpreting Studies. London: Routledge. ; Hale 2007Hale, Sandra B 2007 Community Interpreting. Sydney: Palgrave Macmillan. ); however, even this distinction has become blurred by its seemingly overlapping features with consecutive interpreting (Kalina 2006Kalina, Sylvia 2006 “Zur Dokumentation von Maßnahmen zur Qualitätssicherung beim Simultandolmetschen.” In Text and Translation: Theory and Methodology. Jahrbuch Übersetzen und Dolmetschen, ed. by Carmen Heine, Klaus Schubert, and Heidrun Gerzymisch-Arbogast, 253–268. Tübingen: Narr., 255). In this chapter, Bancroft shows the current trends in community-based interpreting with special reference to the role of the community interpreter and to the ethical issues involved. The rapidly growing field of healthcare interpreting is introduced in the following chapter by Cynthia E. Roat and Ineke H. M. Crezee with particular focuses on the interpreter’s cultural bridging role, standards of practice, regulation, training, and certification. With a narrower focus on mental-health interpreting, Hanneke Bot shows the interpreter’s interactive involvement in interpreting events as cultural mediator, co-therapist, and independent communication participant; thus, constructive cooperation depends on the alignment to the type of patient and type of session. Melissa B. Smith echoes this argument by discussing the use of interpreters in primary, secondary, tertiary, and adult vocational training classes, and by describing the function of interpreters in these various learning environments. The last two chapters address two less discussed interpreting fields: mass media and conflict zones. Pedro Castillo presents a general picture of mass-media interpreting and covers a range of aspects including interpreter recruitment, interpreting services, and the interpreted interactions through different media. In the final chapter of this part, Barbara Moser-Mercer defines interpreting in conflict zones, and describes the complex roles of interpreters and the special challenges they face in terms of their own physical security and the risk of trauma.
Part IV outlines the issues and debates ongoing in the field of interpreting and offers readers a picture of research focuses and trends. Uldis Ozolins traces the ethical standards in interpreting and describes the differences in perception of the interpreter’s role across different sectors. In the next chapter, Justine Ndongo-Keller deals with the topic of trauma and examines different types of trauma (e.g., psychological trauma, emotional trauma, physical trauma, professional trauma, and spiritual trauma) with a view to developing methods of preventing trauma and optimizing the care of interpreters. The growing influence of modern communication technology on interpreting is addressed in Sabine Braun’s chapter on remote interpreting. The author distinguishes telephone-based interpreting and videoconference-based interpreting and delves into current practice and research findings regarding remote interpreting in a range of settings (e.g., supra-national institutions, legal settings, healthcare, business). She concludes with recommendations for research designs so as to ensure quality interpreting in virtual environments. In the next chapter, Ángela Collados Aís and Olalla García Becerra introduce the multifaceted, complex, and dynamic issue of quality, describe the basic parameters that define this concept, and trace the history of quality studies with reference to the most significant research achievements. Continuing with the theme of quality, Jean Turner discusses how interpreter’s quality is measured or evaluated in terms of admission testing and certification testing. In the next chapter, focusing on the graduate level, Chuanyun Bao outlines different interpreting degree programs in Europe and in China, and also provides detailed information about short courses and non-degree programs in interpreting, including certificate programs and online learning. Reflecting the growing emphasis on the training of trainers, Bao lists various training programs and specifies various parameters in interpreter training such as curriculum, assessment, and interpreting expertise development. Non-professional or ad hoc interpreters are associated with community settings in the next chapter by Aída Martínez-Gómez, which reports relevant research findings and argues that the general interpreting research community should give due attention to this type. The last contribution comes from Mette Rudvin with a focus on the sociological issue of professional identity. She discusses how various parameters may affect individual and collective self-perception of interpreting as a profession, adding to the complexity of the identity of interpreter and of the creation of a well-defined professional community (433).
Following the first major reference work on interpreting, Introducing Interpreting Studies by Franz Pöchhacker (2004)Pöchhacker, Franz 2004 Introducing Interpreting Studies. London: Routledge. , this encyclopedic handbook provides readers with a disciplinary framework and a comprehensive, state-of-the art account of interpreting. Trying to meet the needs of very diverse readerships, each contribution in the book helpfully features a lead-in paragraph, a list of key concepts, an overview of main theoretical frameworks, methodologies or specialized practices, challenges lying ahead, related topics, further reading, and an up-to-date bibliography.
However, some imperfections need to be noted. Firstly, some important research issues and approaches are missing in Part IV. One of them is Corpus-based Interpreting Studies, which was proposed many years ago by Miriam Shlesinger (1998)Shlesinger, Miriam 1998 “Corpus-Based Interpreting Studies as an Offshoot of Corpus-Based Translation Studies.” Meta 43 (4): 486–493. and now fulfills a significant role in interpreting studies (Sandrelli, Bendazolli and Russo 2010Sandrelli, Annalisa, Claudio Bendazzoli, and Mariachiaro Russo 2010 “European Parliament Interpreting Corpus (EPIC): Methodological Issues and Preliminary Results on Lexical Patterns in SI.” International Journal of Translation 22 (1–2): 165–203.; Straniero Sergio and Falbio 2012Straniero Sergio, Francesco, and Caterina Falbo eds. 2012 Breaking Ground in Corpus-Based Interpreting Studies. Bern: Peter Lang. ; Angelelli and Baer 2016Angelelli, Claudia V., and Brian James Baer eds. 2016 Researching Translation and Interpreting. London: Routledge.). Another example is bibliometric work on research outputs, which has gained ground in interpreting studies lately (Grbić and Pöllabauer 2008Grbić, Nadja, and Sonja Pöllabauer 2008 “To Count or Not to Count: Scientometrics as a Methodological Tool for Investigating Research on Translation and Interpreting.” Translation and Interpreting Studies 3 (1/2): 87–146. ; Angelelli and Baer 2016Straniero Sergio, Francesco, and Caterina Falbo eds. 2012 Breaking Ground in Corpus-Based Interpreting Studies. Bern: Peter Lang. ) but is not mentioned in this part, either. Secondly, the articles on research issues in Part IV fail to cover some of the important subjects mapped by Franz Pöchhacker (69–74), such as “Memory” and “Strategy” in conference interpreting and “Power” in dialogue interpreting. Thirdly, literature reviews in the various chapters are not always complete. For example, Claudia Angelelli’s work (2004Angelelli, Claudia V 2004 Medical Interpreting and Cross-Cultural Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. , 2006 2006 “Validating Professional Standards and Codes: Challenges and Opportunities.” Interpreting 8 (2): 175–193. , and 2007Angelelli, Claudia V. et al. 2007 “The California Standards for Healthcare Interpreters: Ethical Principles, Protocols and Guidance on Roles and Intervention.” In The Critical Link 4: Professionalization of Interpreting in the Community, ed. by Cecilia Wadensjö, Birgitta Englund Dimitrova, and Anna-Lena Nilsson, 167–180. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. ) on the interpreter’s role, professional codes and ethical principles in healthcare interpreting is regrettably not covered (246–249), which may create an incomplete picture of healthcare interpreting research. Last but not least, questions may be asked about how some of the contributions have been categorized into the book’s four main parts. For example, the article on “Remote Interpreting” in Part IV would appear to be more relevant to Part III inasmuch as the discussion relates to settings.
Despite such minor flaws, this handbook’s comprehensive overviews, multiple foci, insightful guidance, and wealth of authentic references make it into a true encyclopedia of interpreting that will be of great use to a wide and varied readership of interpreting students, users of interpreting services, practitioners, and interpreting researchers – to anyone who is interested in the field and wants to gain deeper insights into it.
This research is funded by the CSC Visiting Scholar Program (2015–2016) at Middlebury College of International Studies at Monterey, as well as by the Hunan Normal University Elite Young Scholar Funding program (14XGG10).
Address for correspondence
Foreign Studies College
Hunan Normal University