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Mediation through personal pronoun shifts in dialogue interpreting of political meetings

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This paper examines the mediation role of government staff interpreters in China. Based on data collected from six political meetings involving senior officials of Guangdong Province, with interpreting performed by staff interpreters in the Protocol Department of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Guangdong, the paper analyzes cases of personal pronoun shifts in the rendition of the interpreters. Results show that personal pronoun shifts occur in all of the interpreted dialogues, and can be divided into: (1) personal pronoun shifts with the same footing, including shifts between first person and third person pronouns and shifts between second person and third person pronouns, (2) personal pronoun shifts with a different footing, for purposes of avoiding misunderstanding or impoliteness, coping with frequent changes of speaking subjects, and correcting an error in the rendition. The paper argues that government staff interpreters of dialogues, with all the constraints posed by the political settings, do not always conform with the norms and rules, but perform a mediation role in communication.
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Keywords: China; dialogue interpreting; personal pronoun shifts; political settings; role; staff interpreters

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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