OVERCOMING INTERCULTURAL CHALLENGES IN INTERPRETING: A CASE STUDY ON CHINESE-ENGLISH CONFERENCE INTERPRETING
Bourne, Jennifer Shuying
Wolvin, Andrew D
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This exploratory case study examines the role of culture in Chinese-English conference interpreting. Given that there has been a lack of empirical research in understanding the role of culture in conference interpreting through the lens of intercultural communication frameworks, we know relatively little about conference interpreters’ experiences with intercultural communication challenges. This project helps address this research gap by investigating the types of intercultural communication challenges that Chinese-English conference interpreters experience and their strategies in managing those challenges. This study hears the voices of both professionals and postgraduate interpreting students. A total number of 27 participants were recruited for this research. Twenty professional conference interpreter were interviewed and seven interpreting students were organized for a focus group discussion. Grounded theory was used to analyze the participants’ observations and strategies in managing intercultural communication challenges when doing Chinese-English conference interpreting. The data analysis process led to the emergence of two procedural guidelines and one process – Interpreters’ Intercultural Mediation Process. The two procedural guidelines offer guidance for the interpreters to provide the most appropriate and effective service: meet with the clients beforehand and be prepared to offer intercultural insights when consulted. Interpreters are found to follow the Interpreters’ Intercultural Mediation Process to decide when and how to mediate intercultural communication challenges at work. This Process includes four criteria, seven intercultural challenges, and seven coping strategies. This study offers theoretical and applied contributions to our understanding of the role of culture in interpreting. By jointly applying frameworks from intercultural communication and interpreting studies to examine the conference interpreting process, this case study makes great efforts to connect the field of intercultural communication with the field of interpreting studies. This study identifies the types of intercultural differences that would lead to challenges in Chinese-English conference interpreting. It also contributes to the call for a cultural turn in interpreting studies. By learning the two procedural guidelines, conference interpreters can be better prepared for their work. By following the Interpreters’ Intercultural Mediation Process, conference interpreters can better anticipate and manage the intercultural challenges at work. This study also offers guidance on tailoring intercultural communication courses for postgraduate interpreting training programs.