Recent Developments in Translatology
Edited By María Amparo Jimenez Ivars and María Jesús Blasco Mayor
The ‘First Person Norm’ in Conference Interpreting (CI) –Some Reflections on Findings from the Field - Veerle Duflou 145
Veerle Duflou, University College Ghent The ‘First Person Norm’ in Conference Interpreting (CI) – Some Reflections on Findings from the Field1 Introduction The starting point for this paper is Brian Harris’s response (Harris, 1990) to Miriam Shlesinger’s call for interpreting scholars to engage with the norm concept introduced in Translation Studies by Gideon Toury (Shlesinger, 1989). In this response Harris argues that the way professional interpreters speak in the first person as if they were the orator is an example of norm-governed interpreter behaviour. The norm in question would entail that, whatever the commonalities and differences between speaker and interpreter as to age, sex etc., a pro- fessional conference interpreter will assume the voice of the speaker when rendering his or her words in the target language, so that when the speaker uses the first person, the interpreter will do the same. In what follows I would like to share with you some reflections, based on both discursive and behavioural evidence, on this ‘first per- son norm’ hypothesis, and try to explain why, in my opinion, the way of rendering the speaker’s first person described above (from here on referred to as the ‘first person mode’) may not be the result of a norm, at least not in the sense Toury attributes to the concept. Please note that, for the sake of brevity, ‘conference interpreting’ and ‘conference interpreter’ will be taken to imply the qualification ‘pro- fessional’ in the context of this paper. 1 Many thanks to Andrew Chesterman, Ebru Diriker,...
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