Pragmatic Competence in Chinese-English Retour Interpreting of Political Speeches: A Corpus-Driven Exploratory Study of Pragmatic Markers

Jun Pan*, Tak Ming Billy Wong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Retour interpreting has often been regarded a controversial practice due to language idiomaticity concerns. Nevertheless, in political and diplomatic settings, such a practice is unavoidable, which poses great challenges to interpreter training. Interpreting for high profile politicians and state leaders is extremely formidable since interpreters need to demonstrate a high level of linguistic command and pragmatic competence in a B (non-native) language. Despite the importance of pragmatic competence in political retour interpreting, little empirical evidence has been provided as to its ‘what’ and ‘how’ in interpreter training. This study, exploratory in nature, aims to address these issues. It focuses on the use of pragmatic markers (PMs), a parameter revealing the quality of political interpreting at the pragmatic level and reflecting the pragmatic competence of interpreters. The use of a set of PMs was examined, including syntactic markers, lexical markers, contrastive makers, and elaborative markers. A comparison of PM use in English speeches by high profile politicians and that in Chinese-to-English interpreted political speeches was conducted based on two corpora: the Corpus of Interpreted Political Speeches from Chinese to English (CIPSCE) and the Corpus of English Political Speeches (CEPS). Findings of the study suggest a general underuse of most PMs, in particular syntactic markers and lexical markers, in the CIPSCE than in the CEPS, whereas the patterns of contrastive markers and elaborative markers seem to be more complicated. The findings help to advance the development of pragmatic competence in interpreter training, by highlighting the areas of improvement in political retour interpreting.
Original languageEnglish
JournalinTRAlinea
Volume21
Issue numberSpecial issue
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

User-Defined Keywords

  • retour interpreting
  • political
  • pragmatic competence
  • pragmatic markers
  • corpus study
  • interpreter training

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