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Breaking Ground in Corpus-based Interpreting Studies

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Francesco Straniero Sergio and Caterina Falbo

This book focuses on interpretation corpora which is one of the major subjects of research in interpreting studies. It explores key issues such as corpus design and representativeness, as well as aims and challenges of the application of corpus-linguistics principles and methods to interpreting. Interpreting corpora represent a real challenge because of the very nature of the items they are composed of. The oral dimension, the unavoidable stage of transcription and the difficulties in relying on authentic data are only some of the aspects that make the creation of interpreting corpora a complex, challenging and time-consuming activity. The book discusses the theoretical problems and presents the working phases leading to the collection of five different interpreting corpora. The variety of approaches adopted by each research team highlights the fact that aims, interrogation methods and corpus design are intertwined. A survey of the studies carried out so far using these five interpreting corpora identifies data comparability as the core issue of corpus-based interpreting studies.

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FRANCESCO STRANIERO SERGIO - Using corpus evidence to discover stylein interpreters’ performances 211

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FRANCESCO STRANIERO SERGIO Using corpus evidence to discover style in interpreters’ performances What makes CorIT (cf. Falbo in this volume) significantly different from other interpreting-based corpora is the availability of a large number of simultaneous (SI) and/or consecutive interpretations (CI) delivered by the same interpreter over a period of 15-20 years. I con- sider this a unique research opportunity which makes it possible to undertake a diachronic study of the translational and interactional behaviour of an individual interpreter, aiming at identifying his or her style, understood as his or her distinctive manner of interpreting. The concept of style has not been given as much attention in Interpreting Studies as has quality, which has generated extensive and controversial literature among scholars. However, the two con- cepts, although somehow related, are to be kept separate. Arguably, quality assesses interpreters’ performance according to pre-established standards and shared expectations, using parameters such as equiva- lence, adequacy, appropriateness, acceptability and the like. It is more implicitly prescription-oriented. Style appears to be more neutral (evaluation-free) and description-oriented. The prescriptive approach has dominated Interpreting Studies for a long time, with a priori statements like “what an interpreter performance should be”, or “what an interpreter should do”. From a descriptive viewpoint, we are, however, interested in making state- ments about what an interpretation actually does consist of (rather than what it should consist of). Here, of course, I’m referring to the notion of norms and to Descriptive Translation Studies (Chesterman 1993; Toury 1995; Schäffner 1999). Stylistic features,...

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