Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1384-6647
  • E-ISSN: 1569-982X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Although telephone interpreting is widely used in many countries, very little is known about the quality of telephone interpreting performance in social service settings. This paper reports on the findings of an exploratory study investigating the quality of a professional Mandarin/English interpreter’s consecutive interpreting performance in one on-site interpreting task and two telephone interpreting tasks. All three tasks are simulations of authentic situations. This article has two aims. The primary aim is to compare the accuracy of the interpreting performance in on-site and telephone interpreting by using a meaning unit-based quality assessment framework. The secondary aim is to use a Conversation-Analysis-based micro-analytical approach to explore the nature of accurate interpretations (e.g. strategic additions, strategic omissions) and problematic interpretations (e.g. unjustifiable omissions, unjustifiable distortions), especially examining the motivations for these interpretations, the extent to which they are indicative of interpreting difficulties, and their impact on the triadic communication. A key finding is that the interpreter’s performance was highly accurate in all three interpreting tasks. The micro-analytical approach has served to identify possible reasons for the interpreter’s accurate and inaccurate interpretations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Baraldi, C.
    (2012) Interpreting as dialogic mediation: The relevance of expansions. InC. Baraldi & L. Gavioli (Eds.), Coordinating participation in dialogue interpreting. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 297–326. 10.1075/btl.102.13bar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.102.13bar [Google Scholar]
  2. Baraldi, C. & Gavioli, L.
    (Eds.) (2012) Coordinating participation in dialogue interpreting. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/btl.102
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.102 [Google Scholar]
  3. Braun, S.
    (2007) Interpreting in small-group bilingual videoconferences: Challenges and adaptation processes. Interpreting9 (1), 21–46. 10.1075/intp.9.1.03bra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.9.1.03bra [Google Scholar]
  4. (2013) Keep your distance? Remote interpreting in legal proceedings: A critical assessment of a growing practice. Interpreting15 (2), 200–228. doi:  10.1075/intp.15.2.03bra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.15.2.03bra [Google Scholar]
  5. (2015) Remote interpreting. InF. Pöchhacker (Ed.), Routledge encyclopedia of interpreting studies. London/New York: Routledge, 346–348.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. (2017) What a micro-analytical investigation of additions and expansions in remote interpreting can tell us about interpreter’s participation in a shared virtual space. Journal of Pragmatics107, 165–177. doi:  10.1016/j.pragma.2016.09.011
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2016.09.011 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cheng, Q.
    (2015) Examining the challenges for telephone interpreters in New Zealand. MA thesis, Auckland University of Technology.
  8. Cunningham, H., Cushman, L. F., Akuete-Penn, C. & Meyer, D. D.
    (2008) Satisfaction with telephonic interpreters in pediatric care. Journal of the National Medical Association100 (4), 429–434. doi:  10.1016/S0027‑9684(15)31277‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0027-9684(15)31277-3 [Google Scholar]
  9. Gracia-García, R. A.
    (2002) Telephone interpreting: A review of pros and cons. InB. Scott (Ed.), Proceedings of the 43rd annual conference. Alexandria: American Translators Association, 195–216.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Halliday, M. & Matthiessen, C.
    (2014) Halliday’s introduction to functional grammar (4th ed.). London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203783771
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203783771 [Google Scholar]
  11. Jacobsen, B.
    (2002) Pragmatic meaning in court interpreting: An empirical study in consecutively interpreted question-answer dialogues. PhD dissertation, The Aarhus School of Business.
  12. Kelly, N.
    (2008) Telephone interpreting. A comprehensive guide to the profession. Bloomington: Trafford Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Kelly, N. & Pöchhacker, F.
    (2015) Telephone interpreting. InF. Pöchhacker (Ed.), Routledge encyclopedia of interpreting studies. London/New York: Routledge, 412–415.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Kohn, K. & Kalina, S.
    (1996) The strategic dimension of interpreting. Meta41 (1), 118–138. doi:  10.7202/003333ar
    https://doi.org/10.7202/003333ar [Google Scholar]
  15. Lee, J.
    (2007) Telephone interpreting – seen from the interpreters’ perspective. Interpreting9 (2), 231–252. doi:  10.1075/intp.9.2.05lee
    https://doi.org/10.1075/intp.9.2.05lee [Google Scholar]
  16. Locatis, C., Williamson, D., Gould-Kabler, C., Zone-Smith, L., Detzler, I., Roberson, J., Maisiak, R. & Ackerman, M.
    (2010) Comparing in-person, video, and telephonic medical interpretation. Journal of General Internal Medicine25 (4), 345–350. doi:  10.1007/s11606‑009‑1236‑x
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-009-1236-x [Google Scholar]
  17. Major, G. & Napier, J.
    (2012) Interpreting and knowledge mediation in the healthcare setting: What do we really mean by ‘accuracy’?Linguistica Antverpiensia11, 207–225.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Mason, I. & Stewart, M.
    (2001) Interactional pragmatics, face and the dialogue interpreter. InI. Mason (Ed.), Triadic exchanges: Studies in dialogue interpreting. Manchester: St Jerome, 51–70.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Merlini, R. & Favaron, R.
    (2005) Examining the “voice of interpreting” in speech pathology. Interpreting7 (2), 263–302. doi:  10.1075/bct.9.08mer
    https://doi.org/10.1075/bct.9.08mer [Google Scholar]
  20. Mikkelson, H.
    (2003) Telephone interpreting: Boon or bane?InL. P. González (Ed.), Speaking in tongues: Language across contexts and users. Valencia: Universitat de València, 251–269.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. (2008) Evolving views of the court interpreter’s role: Between Scylla and Chrybdis. InC. Valero Garcés & A. Martin (Eds.), Crossing borders in community interpreting: Definitions and dilemmas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 81–97. 10.1075/btl.76.05mik
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.76.05mik [Google Scholar]
  22. Pointon, T.
    (1996) Telephone interpreting service is available (Letter). British Medical Journal312, 53. 10.1136/bmj.312.7022.53
    https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7022.53 [Google Scholar]
  23. Price, E. L., Pérez-Stable, E. J., Nickleach, D., López, M. & Karliner, L. S.
    (2012) Interpreter perspectives of in-person, telephonic, and videoconferencing medical interpreting in clinical encounters. Patient Education and Counseling87, 226–232. doi:  10.1016/j.pec.2011.08.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2011.08.006 [Google Scholar]
  24. Rosenberg, B. A.
    (2007) A data driven analysis of telephone interpreting. InC. Wadensjö, B. E. Dimitrova & A.-L. Nilsson (Eds.), The Critical Link 4: Professionalisation of interpreting in the community. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 65–76. 10.1075/btl.70.09ros
    https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.70.09ros [Google Scholar]
  25. Wadensjö, C.
    (1998) Interpreting as interaction. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. (1999) Telephone interpreting and the synchronisation of talk in social interaction. The Translator5 (2), 247–264. doi:  10.1080/13556509.1999.10799043
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13556509.1999.10799043 [Google Scholar]
  27. Wang, J.
    (2018a) ‘I only interpret the content and ask practical questions when necessary.’ Interpreters’ perceptions of their explicit coordination and personal pronoun choice in telephone interpreting. Perspectives. (online first). doi:  10.1080/0907676X.2018.1549087
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2018.1549087 [Google Scholar]
  28. (2018b) “It keeps me on my toes”: Interpreters’ perceptions of challenges in telephone interpreting and their coping strategies. Target (online first). doi:  10.1075/target.17012.wan
    https://doi.org/10.1075/target.17012.wan [Google Scholar]
  29. (2018c) ‘Telephone interpreting should be used only as a last resort.’ Interpreters’ perceptions of the suitability, remuneration and quality of telephone interpreting. Perspectives26 (1), 100–116. doi:  10.1080/0907676X.2017.1321025
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0907676X.2017.1321025 [Google Scholar]
  30. Xu, J.
    (2009) The use of discourse markers in spoken Chinese of urban teenagers (in Chinese). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error