Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Translation

Syntactic Linearity in Conference Interpreting

Author QuZuo
Tutor LiShaoMing
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords conference interpreting syntactic linearity interpreting models comparison between English and Chinese
CLC H315.9
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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This thesis takes the question "the principle of syntactic linearity in conference interpreting" as its major theme, and conference interpreting mainly includes simultaneous interpreting and consecutive interpreting. The thesis adopts Noam Chomsky’s Economy Principle in Minimalist Program and Gile’s Efforts Model as the theoretical basis. Although the Economy Principle in Minimalist Program is applied to natural language deviation, it is also used to explain the use of syntactic linearity in conference interpreting with the new criteria:1) Make no movements unless it is necessary to do so;2) Postpone movements as long as possible;3) Reduce movements as often as possible;4) The number of movements within a sentence should be as few as possible;5) The distance in any single movement shall be as short as possible.(translated by the author)In Gile’s Efforts Model, equations representing the processes in simultaneous interpreting (SI) and consecutive interpreting (CI) are provided, which offer a clear comparison between these two modes of conference interpreting. It is found that both SI and CI are multi-task work and for listening convenience, the interpreters in CI naturally take notes according to the original order of the source language, which gives the author aspiration that the principle of syntactic linearity is also effective in CI.The author believes that the principle of syntactic linearity in simultaneous interpreting (SI) is not only necessary but also feasible. The necessity of the use of the principle in SI is analyzed from the perspective of the special features of SI, including time constraints in SI, heavy load on short-term memory, Si’s nature of tri-task work and ear-to-voice span in SI. These special features of SI make syntactic linearity indispensable in simultaneous interpreting. Since the paper mainly focuses on conference interpreting from English into Chinese, the feasibility of the principle in SI is discussed mainly from the similarity between English and Chinese, the inherent features of Chinese and the influence of English on mandarin standard Chinese.Only when two languages possess something in common can they be mutually interpreted, especially as in simultaneous interpreting. The most important syntactic similarity between English and Chinese lies in that they possess similar clauses types, which offer possibility for the use of syntactic linearity. And the flexibility of Chinese provides a basis for adopting syntactic linearity in conference interpreting from English into Chinese. This flexibility is reflected in the use of running sentences, word shift and tolerance of repetition in Chinese.Moreover, mandarin standard Chinese is greatly influenced by English in modern times. The convergence between these two languages also offers leeway for mutual interpreting. This convergence lies in the increased use of subject-prominent structure, lexical nominalization and an increase of lengthy sentences in Chinese. All the above factors concerning the necessity and feasibility of syntactic linearity in SI contribute to the main contents in Chapter 3.Based on segmentation, the author gives corresponding strategies in SI on the basis of the syntactic differences between English and Chinese. Four points are proposed for segmenting at connective words, proposition structure, non-verb form and the speaker’s natural pauses. The syntactic differences between English and Chinese are discussed from the English right-branching and the Chinese left branching including different positions of attributives and adverbials; pre-centered English and post-centered Chinese; and English noun oriented and Chinese verb oriented. Examples in real interpreting situations are accompanied to illustrate the strategies corresponding to these discrepancies.Through the comparison between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting on the basis of Gile’s Efforts Model, it is found that the special features of SI are also significant in CI. Therefore, the author hypothesized that the principle of syntactic linearity is also effective in CI. And a case study is conducted to verify the hypothesis and see the differences between subjects who know the principle and those who do not in their performance of CI. Eight subjects chosen in the case study are third year female post graduates students majoring in English language and Literature in Shandong University. All of them have passed the Advanced Interpreter Test (AIT), four of whom know the principle of syntactic linearity while the left four do not. In the case study, it is found that the subjects who know about the technique of syntactic linearity and are able to use it can get higher score, i.e. interpret more propositions correctly, than those who do not know about the technique. Besides, subjects in Group A tended to lose less information in their interpretation than those in Group B. Their production seems more smooth and fluent while subjects in Group B often interrupted during the interpreting process.Through such a study, the author, hopefully, could possibly offer some insights to beginning practitioners and students interpreters. It will also be meaningful if this thesis could provide some inspirations to SI and CI training. After all, conference interpreting is a highly practical and skill-demanding activity, which needs excellent mastery of the two languages and long time practice to accumulate experience.

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