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Interpreters’ notes: On the choice of language

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This paper reports on a small-scale empirical study on note-taking in consecutive interpreting. As data, the study draws on the notes produced by four subjects while interpreting one Spanish source text consecutively into Danish, on the one hand, and one Danish source text into Spanish, on the other. The aim of the study is to explore what governs conference interpreters’ choice of language for their notes. The categories traditionally used to discuss, describe and explain this choice are those of source language and target language, and these categories are therefore subject to particular scrutiny here. However, somewhat surprisingly, the results of the analyses indicate that the choice of language in note-taking is governed mainly by the status of the language in the interpreters’ language combination, i.e. whether it is an A- or a B-language, and much less by its status in the interpreting task, i.e. whether it functions as the source or the target language. Drawing on the concept of processing capacity and the Effort Model of consecutive, a tentative explanation of these findings is suggested.
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Keywords: A-language; B-language; Effort Model; consecutive interpreting; interpreting direction; language combination; note-taking; processing capacity; source language; target language

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aarhus School of Business

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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