Title: Be(com)ing a conference interpreter - An ethnography of EU interpreters as a professional community
Authors: Duflou, Veerle; S0176621
Issue Date: 8-Jan-2015
Abstract: Based on a 4 year ethnographic study of conference interpreters workingfor the EU institutions' interpreting services, the thesis describes conference interpreting as a practice. This approach is based on the idea that conference interpreters do not perform their job in isolation, but in a team with colleagues and in a wider social and organizational framework which shapes the conditions under which they work and the professional requirements put upon them. The study was motivated by the gap that interpreter trainers and institutional recruiters observe between, on the one hand, the level of competence acquired by graduates who are successful in the EU accreditation tests and, on the other hand, that which isneeded to perform adequately in EU interpreting assignments.Drawing on documentary evidence, interview data and field notes resulting from observant participation of interpreters working for the interpretingservices of the European Commission (DG SCIC) and the European Parliament (DG INTE), the thesis first describes how EU interpreters are employed by the interpreting DGs of the European Commission and the European Parliament in a highly institutionalized and complex environment. It demonstrates that, although they are divided into various subgroups along organizational (DG SCIC vs. DG INTE), administrative (ACIs/freelancers vs. officials) and linguistic (based on A-language) lines, the specific characteristics of their work context define them as a community of practice with a joint professional mission. Both gate-keeping (accreditation tests and staff competitions) and quality standards are shown to be mainly managed by members of the community itself. Subsequently, a series of major distinctive properties of EU interpreting work and their implications for the knowledge and skills required of practitioners are discussed. First, as a result of the EU’s policyof multilingualism, large language regimes are common in EU meetings. As these involve extensive recourse to retour and relay interpreting, insight in the implications of the information provided on the team sheet and proficiency in the interaction with the simultaneous interpreting equipment are indispensable for interpreters. Second, meeting types and subject fields vary across space (i.e. the working places and buildings of the various institutions served by the EU interpreting services) and time (i.e. according to institutional cycles). Under these conditions, not only familiarity with the material context, but also the ability to recognize the links between the spatio-temporal situation and the characteristics of interpreting assignments are essential accomplishments. Third, within meetings, several meeting activities can be distinguished, each of them associated with specific types of interaction and discourse. For EU interpreters it is essential to be able to understand the implications of the meeting agenda, i.e. to link agenda items to various meeting activities in order to gauge the characteristics of the interpreting assignment. Fourth, both interpreting services have developed an array of dedicated ICT tools for advance consultation of meeting documents, terminology research, etc., which EU interpreters need to master. By examining the ways the EU interpreting DGs define categories of interpreter employees as ‘beginners’ and ‘newcomers’ and how they regulate their eligibility for specific support measures, the study reveals how formal and informal arrangements contribute to creating or restricting individuals’ opportunities for situated learning.Drawing on interviewand observational data reflecting differences in the skills and knowledge of beginning and experienced interpreters, it argues that interpreting competence is situated (i.e. bounded to a specific working context) and includes not only cognitive, but also embodied and social components. An examination of the opportunities for learning offered by participation in the practice shows that, for EU interpreters, situated learning is a necessary complement to formal conference interpreting training in that it allows them to become familiar with the shared repertoire of knowledge and skills required to cope with their task.line-height:normal">"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:NL-BE" lang="EN-GB">"Times New Roman";mso-fareast-language:NL-BE">"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:NL-BE" lang="EN-GB"> Finally, the study demonstrates how the multidimensional conceptof competence which emerges from a practice view contributes to a better understanding of the problems beginning interpretersface. A multimodal analysis of the way on-mic work is distributed among booth mates ina sample of EU meetings shows how Dutch booth interpreters rely on a complex of cognitive, social and embodied skills in order to apply shared professional and moral values in the course of an assignment.120%;font-family:Gentium;mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";background:yellow;mso-highlight:yellow;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:NL;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA" lang="EN-GB"><w:latentstyles deflockedstate="false" defunhidewhenused="true"  <w:lsdexception="" locked="false" priority="0" semihidden="false"  
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Translation and Intercultural Transfer, Leuven

Files in This Item:
File Status SizeFormat
Flyer Benjamins VDuflou.pdf Published 882KbAdobe PDFView/Open Request a copy

These files are only available to some KU Leuven Association staff members


All items in Lirias are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved.