Be(com)ing a Conference Interpreter

An ethnography of EU interpreters as a professional community

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This study offers a novel view of Conference Interpreting by looking at EU interpreters as a professional community of practice. In particular, Duflou’s work focuses on the nature of the competence conference interpreters working for the European Parliament and the European Commission need to acquire in order to cope with their professional tasks. Making use of observation as a member of the community, in-depth interviews and institutional documents, she explores the link between the specificity of the EU setting and the knowledge and skills required. Her analysis of the learning experiences of newcomers in the professional community shows that EU interpreters’ competence is to a large extent context-dependent and acquired through situated learning. In addition, it highlights the various factors which have an impact on this learning process.

Using the way Dutch booth EU interpreters share the workload in the booth as a case, Duflou demonstrates the importance of mastering collaborative and embodied skills for EU interpreters. She thereby challenges the idea of interpreting competence from an individual, cognitive accomplishment and redefines it as the ability to apply the practical and setting-determined know-how required to function as a full member of the professional community.

Subjects: Translation studies; Interpreting

  • Affiliations: 1: Ghent University

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