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Dialogue interpreting as a specific case of reported speech

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Abstract

This paper reports on what is often referred to as “translating in the first person” or retaining the perspective of person as an aspect of consecutive interpreting that generates attention whenever the quality of interpreting is being considered. The study draws on six videotaped interpreter-mediated psychotherapy sessions and constitutes part of a PhD research project (described in Bot forthcoming) on the communication processes in interpreter-mediated psychotherapeutic dialogue. The study shows it is possible to distinguish between two types of changes in the perspective of person: the addition of a reporting verb (e.g. “he says”), generally at the beginning of a rendition, and a change in personal pronoun (usually from “I” into “he” or “she”) in what follows. All three of the interpreters in the data sample introduce these two types of changes, at different frequencies and for various reasons. The findings show that the addition of a reporting verb not only serves to indicate who is speaking, but also plays a role in the organization of turn-transfer. They also suggest that changes in the perspective of person are less of a problem than generally assumed. Although such shifts do serve to indicate the specific position of the interpreter as intermediary between therapist and patient, this does not seem to alienate therapist and patient, but merely recognizes the interactive reality of this type of talk.

References

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