Author: Pelea, Alina
Date published: June 1, 2011
2002 was an important year for the Department of Applied Modern Languages at Babes-Bolyai University, marking the founding of the European Masters in Conference Interpreting degree course, currently part of the prestigious EMCI, European Masters in Conference Interpreting. As well as opening up a highly specialised area of training, soon after the creation of the programme, pedagogical activities were paralleled by an increasingly active interest in conducting research in this field, a significant body of the staff's research output being now published in International Review of Studies in Applied Modern Languages. 2011 is yet another turning point for our department as it marks the publication of the first special issue of Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai entirely devoted to interpreting.
The variety and topicality of the issues discussed, the professional quality of the contributions, and the diversity of disciplinary perspectives embraced, stand in evidence that the volume edited by Izabella Badiu makes a notable contribution to the emergent research field of interpreting studies and a corollary to the work undertaken by staff, associate tutors and MA candidates in the Conference Interpreting Masters in Cluj-Napoca.
Section 1 (Pédagogie de l'interprétation) opens with a rich and thoroughly documented presentation of "Interpreter Training, Diversification and Flexibility: The Role of Recruiting Organisations" by Clare Donovan, Director of the Master in Conference Intepreting at the ESIT. After pointing out the numerous difficulties that arise from the specificities involved in interpreter training - difficulties deriving from the "tension between academic norms and professional demands" (p. 13) - the author presents the international organisations, the most important employers of graduates of interpreting programmes, as a key solution to improving the quality of the teaching, to supporting the efforts that need to be made constatly with university authorities and to "reinforcing the sense of professional community and identity" (p. 23).
On a practical note, Manuela Motta (University of Geneva) suggests a well theoretically grounded "general framework for the development of expertise in interpreting that students can apply during their practice session" (p. 27), and teachers can use for improving feedback and solutions they give to various problems encountered by students. The very concrete guidelines (p. 36-38) provided in this paper ("Facilitating the Novice to Expert Transition in Interpreter Training: A 'Deliberate Practice' Framework Proposal") synthesize major theoretical points on the concept of "deliberate practice" as well as the author's views on how the latter could actually improve the everyday learning process of future interpreters.
Izabella Badiu, coordinator of the Conference Interpreting Masters in Cluj- Napoca and Head of the Applied Modern Languages Department, focuses on selfevaluation as a meta-cognitive tool ("L'auto-évaluation des étudiants en interprétation: quels moyens pour quels résultats ?"). Based on the results of a long term experiment launched in 2007, she highlights various means to stimulate selfevaluation throughout the learning process, with their respective advantages and inevitable flaws. The conclusion stresses the potential of this instrument students have at their disposal and the importance of a continuing effort targeting selfevaluation improvement.
An interesting and enriching perspective on interpreting is that provided by Éva Kállay (lecturer at the Department of Psychology at Babes-Bolyai University) who has worked as a psychologist with two generations of students of the Conference Interpreting Masters in Cluj-Napoca. Her paper ("Coaching and Stress Management in Interpretation") documents the methods she used in order to acquire a deeper understanding of interpreting-related stress and improve the candidates' stress management. The results of the experiment would definitely justify inclusion as a standard part of the training for interpreters.
The increasing number of Romanian university programmes offering interpreting makes it necessary to discuss "a number of basic aspects pertaining to curricular design" (p. 71) at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Bogdan Aldea (Babes-Bolyai University) takes up this challenge and identifies several "Elements of Curriculum Design for Interpreter Training Programmes" that respond to the Romanian situation, but which could certainly be generalized and used in a variety of other more or less similar cases.
Section 2 (Réflexions théoriques) offers a diverse collection of theoretical considerations that approach provocative topics, pointing to further research directions in the area. Thus, Dörte Andres (Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz/Gemersheim) develops an integrating process model for interpreting ("Dolmetschwissenschaft zu begin des 21. jahrhunderts: ein integrativ konzipiertes dolmetschprozessmodell") which builds on existing models to which it adds various other factors, as diverse as the role of the self, the importance of being informed about the context, the management of the workload.
Malgorzata Tryuk (University of Warsaw) deals with "The Role of Theory of Interpreting and the Training of Conference Interpreters" and presents an experiment she conducted at her university following the model of an experiment conducted in Spain a decade ago. The conclusion the author supports in a very convincing way is that "there is no doubt such classes should be included in both the curriculum of studies and training courses for conference interpreters" (p. 117) for students to be able to carry out their tasks in an effective and well thought-out way.
In the current context in which English has become by far the most commonly used language in international settings, interpreters are faced with one more intelligibility problem requiring specific solutions: non-native English. Karin Reithofer (University of Vienna) analyses the present situation from the point of view of both interpreters and their customers and, on the basis of intelligibility studies, coping strategies for professional and training interpreters ("English as a Lingua Franca and Interpreting"). Interestingly, she also points out that "Interpreters who are less resentful of the major changes occurring in the profession might also be more effective in persuading others that in certain settings interpreting is more appropriate and effective than resorting to communication in English only" (p. 128). This is further proof that non resentful adaptation to new realities is one key skill in the interpreting profession.
Simona Damian (a graduate of the Conference Interpreting Masters at Babes-Bolyai University) presents an overview of a courageous and rigorous undertaking in which she has been actively involved for several years now and which "was meant to be a first step towards studying the RSL [Romanian Sign language] grammar" (p. 137). The hard work behind the project has already lead to results, as the paper "An Introduction to the Morphology of Romanian Sign Language" demonstrates. These results provide an incentive for all those concerned to continue their research as well as their plea for a well-systematized RSL.
In her paper "La théorie interprétative de la traduction appliquée à un cours d'interprétation consécutive niveau master", Emanuela-Iudith Susan (2nd year student in the Conference Interpreting Masters at Babes-Bolyai University) sets out to analyze the advantages and merits of the Interpretive Theory of Translation starting from one particular class of consecutive interpreting. Her conclusions point to the existence of a certain reluctance of students to resort to this complex analysis tool as well as to the importance of persevering in using it as a key to making the most of what Interpretative Theory has to offer.
In Section 3 (Aspects professionnels), Ivana Cenkova (Charles University in Prague) builds on the experience of Czech interpreters working for the European Institutions ("Les interprètes de langue tchèque au sein des institutions européennes") for formulating a series of conclusions and recommendations targeted at all the parties concerned: delegates, interpreters, and interpreting students.
It is with great interest that we read Liliana Spânu's contribution (alumna of the AML Department at Babes-Bolyai University and of the department of Gender Studies from the Central European University, Budapest) who sheds an interesting and surprising light on "Skirts and Suits in Conference Interpreting: Female Interpreters and Male Clients on the Current Romanian Market". The main conclusion raises questions that require immediate action on the part of professional interpreters: on the Romanian informal interpreting market, "women's competences and skills as professional conference interpreters are trivialized" (p. 188). Spânu goes on to suggest an association as a potential solution to this problem and research issue and a consideration of men interpreters' position on the same Romanian market as a way of improving our understanding of the current situation.
Community interpreting - a most topical subject in the literature of interpreting studies - is reviewed by Iulia Bobaila (Babes-Bolyai University) from a cultural and pedagogical perspective. As a teacher, the author articulates her study "Interpretación vs. mediación cultural - referencias al ámbito educative español" around the concept of competencies required in public services settings and takes the concrete example of the Spanish education system to make useful suggestions in what the training of interpreters is concerned: "Las ofertas de specializaci ó n de las univesidades representan sólo uno de los posibles pasos adelante apara asegurar la calidad en el proceso de mediación/interrpetación en contextos que llegan a requerir, a veces, competencies de asistencia social" (p. 197). Thus, a more comprehensive approach to this challenge is needed.
Several months of observation in Romanian hospital settings and surveys submitted to 50 Romanian medical practitioners enable Maria Iaroslavschi (alumna of the Conference Interpreting Masters at Babes-Bolyai University) to draw a realistic and documented portrait of "The Language Mediator in Romanian Hospital Settings". This study draws on very relevant works in this field and takes into account a variety of minutiae pertaining to the topic of healthcare interpreting (ranging from the distribution and weight of languages in medical professionals' lives to the types of contact they have with foreign languages) and contributes to a better definition of "quality" in this context. Equally, it signals a state of affairs Romanian authorities should address: "an insufficient degree of professional acknowledgement" (p. 203).
Important results of the translation studies field are interestingly put to work by Luana Audrey Chirita (University of Bucarest) in her paper on "Cultural Values in Interpreting". Here the author deals with "borderline situations" (p 208) and, starting from concrete examples, she asks questions that may become a fertile topic of reflection for readers, especially since this is an area of rich variety, featuring many alternative approaches. Reality is richer than theory and translation and interpreting studies have abundantly proven it until now.
The volume closes with a contribution on the "Gestion mémorielle chez l'interprète de conférence. Approche cognitiviste". Zohra Hadj-Aissa (University of Algiers) offers here what may be viewed as the introduction to an interesting and very useful approach to memory enhancement for interpreting purposes.
Alina PELEA *
Department of Applied Modern Languages, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca,