Straniero Sergio, Francesco and Falbo, Caterina (2012): Breaking Ground in Corpus-Based Interpreting Studies. Bern/New York: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 254 p.[Notice]

  • Rongbo Fu

…plus d’informations

  • Rongbo Fu
    Xiamen University, Xiamen, People’s Republic of China

Interpreting studies as a recognized academic pursuit has only been in existence for some 60 years but has already witnessed a range of shifts in its research paradigm. The University of Trieste has been in the forefront of the more recent development of the discipline, serving as a catalyst for new and innovative efforts, including the first epoch-making interpreting symposium that triggered the cross-disciplinary approach, the publishing of The Interpreters’ Newsletter – the first academic journal specializing in interpreting studies – and the introduction of the neuropsychological paradigm, among other things. All these clearly signal the ethos embraced by researchers from that institution, i.e., pioneering research in the field. Their achievements have been further applauded in the recent book edited jointly by Francesco Straniero Sergio and Caterina Falbo, entitled Breaking Ground in Corpus-based Interpreting Studies. It highlights some fresh advancements and thoughts on building and using interpreting corpora. The book comprises eight chapters, starting with an overview of the field, followed by seven chapters featuring introductions to or case analyses of specific corpora. In the first chapter, Straniero Sergio and Falbo focus on main issues and challenges concerning the development and application of interpreting corpora against the landscape of corpus-based translation studies. Since designing and creating interpreting corpora is the first step in sparking such studies, the chapter begins with a summary of five macro-factors the authors see as key to defining a truly representative interpreting corpus, namely, interpreter, situational content, mode, language and directionality, type of interaction. These parameters, as they claim, make it “possible to concentrate on a particular communicative situation” and “obtain results related to interpretation in that particular situation” (p.13). While corpora play a significant role in promoting traditional translation studies, their use in seeking translated features such as universals or laws generates little knowledge of extra-linguistic aspects of the activity other than some descriptive analyses of linguistic regularities; hence the appeal to “go beyond … and look for cognitive, ethical, social, cultural and even ideological explanations outside translated texts” (p. 22). The authors feel this also holds true for corpus-based interpreting studies. Moreover, given the difficulties of data access and transcription in creating an interpreting corpus, they view the development of interpreting corpora as still in an embryonic stage and consider qualitative research to be more appropriate. The chapter concludes with a particular emphasis on data comparability which is seen as a strong determinant of research quality and validity. The second chapter is a comprehensive introduction to the building, query and research topics of EPIC, a trilingual corpus comprising a total of nine sub-corpora of simultaneous interpretation in English, French and Spanish. Mariachiara Russo et al. examine in detail the methodology used to develop the corpus, including data collection, digitization, transcription, and annotation, etc. As the first interpreting corpus developed for research and pedagogical purposes globally, EPIC has served as an ideal testing ground for conventional hypotheses and beliefs. The authors note that research output related to EPIC deals mainly with such aspects as lexical density and variety, disfluencies, speed and mode of delivery. Interestingly, EPIC is also becoming a data source for many local M.A. dissertations, some of which are “especially innovative” (p. 78). With upgrading work such as corpus expansion and text/sound (video) alignment steadily underway, EPIC’s research and teaching potential is clearly enormous. In the third chapter Claudio Bendazzoli offers some inspiring reflections on data classification and annotation of DIRSI, a bilingual (Italian/English) parallel interpreting corpus of international medical conferences whose development draws on EPIC's creation experience. However, as the DIRSI data source is not comparable to that of EPIC, fresh efforts …