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The interpreter’s visibility in the European Parliament

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This ethnographic study aims to shed light on how the services of simultaneous interpreters working during plenary sessions of the European Parliament are perceived and evaluated by the users, i.e. mainly Members of the European Parliament and other European Union officials. The corpus analysed covers all the plenaries in the eight-year period 2005–2012. The aim was to examine references to interpreters and/or their output made by the speakers. A total of 230 relevant excerpts were identified, varying in length. Thematic analysis established that speakers’ comments addressed to, or concerning, interpreters were associated with six topics. The most frequent was appreciation of interpreters (almost a third of all items), after which doubts regarding interpretations were only marginally ahead of reminders to speakers about the practical constraints imposed by interpreting (each accounting for almost 20%). Three far less frequent items (about 5–10% each) were criticism, difficulty (of interpreting specific items) and apologies. The study discusses representative occurrences of each topic, also providing an overall breakdown of quantitative trends.

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Keywords: European Parliament; ethnography; simultaneous interpreting; users; visibility

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 4, 2017

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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