skills required to restructure speech and to perform analysis and synthesis” (i.e. the ability to paraphrase), report that the main findings of their experiment “confirm empirically what had been intuitively stated by the interpreting community: the ability to grasp the original meaning quickly and to convey the essential meaning of what is being said is undoubtedly a fundamental pre-requisite for interpreting” (Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 421). This needs to be accompanied by fluency of presentation, that is to say, a full command of expressive means in the language one is interpreting into.
Underscoring the significance of the ways people create meaning within their social, cultural and individual styles, Russo and Pippa (2004, p. 421) suggest interpreting courses “include exercises such as paraphrasing, substituting and clarifying meaning to become more aware of how various meanings can be interpreted.”
Reporting the results of her experiment, Moser-Mercer (2000, p. 118, as cited in Russo & Pippa, 2004, p. 422), who compared the performance of students and professional interpreters in a task of shadowing, made the following illuminating observation:
Interpreters, however, made greater use of substitutions, producing nonetheless sentences that were grammatically correct, and did not alter the meaning of the sentences. These substitutions resemble what Lambert (1992) called ‘sophisticated corrections.’ One might wonder whether at some level they were treating the shadowing task as if it were simultaneous interpretation, paraphrasing the input in the same language.
This observation is interesting since it signals that interpreters seem to grow a kind of natural and automatic preference for paraphrasing. The idea is echoed in Seleskovitch’s (1994, p. 91, cited in Kim, 2006, p. 255) observation on linguistic interference during the interpretation process:
[…] while the young interpreter must consciously strive to resist linguistic interference, this effort becomes second nature to the experienced interpreter. Ultimately, it can be said that the more skilled the interpreter, the more automatized interference blocking becomes, enabling smooth interpreting. This is a skill that can be gained through continuous training.
By means of focusing on the content rather than form, paraphrasing helps the interpreter resist linguistic interference. When practiced for long enough, the process becomes more automatized. Kim (2003, cited in Kim, 2006, p.256) introduces paraphrasing as a specific, effective way to establish concepts as well as to increase vocabulary and explains that through this “interpretation intuition and predictability can be increased.”
Russo and Pippa (2004) summarize the results of their research saying that the trainees’ ability to simultaneously paraphrase an incoming text has a strong positive correlation with their future interpreting success rate and thus conclude that the would-be trainees’ ability in simultaneous paraphrasing is a strong, reliable predictor of their prospective success/failure in the course of their training.
Also known as summarization or abstracting, this is yet another one of the reformulation strategies (Ribas, 2012). It is basically made possible because there is always some degree of redundancy in speech; “High redundancy in discourse provides the interpreter with opportunities for compression.” (Chernov, 2004, p. 113)
Speech compression is defined by Chernov (2004, p. 113) to consist in:
[…] an economy of language to express a given content. Ellipses and elliptical constructions, to name but one means of compression, are found in all languages. As a stylistic device in simultaneous interpreting, compression is made possible by linguistic redundancy in the thematic component of discourse. The skill of compression is also a ‘labour-saving device’ in the extreme conditions of SI.
As the above observation shows, compression is to be found in all languages as a stylistic device. This is when the speakers deem it appropriate to omit certain parts of a text on the account that the presence of linguistic as well as paralinguistic clues in the (con)text makes it possible for the receivers to infer the omitted sections. The particular significance of compression in SI arises from the fact that under the extremely difficult and constraint-filled circumstances of SI (Gile, 1995), it can remove some pressure and reduce the cognitive burden.
According to Kohn and Kalina (1996, p.132, as quoted in Lee, 2012, p. 706), “condensation is an “important overall rescue strategy” which enables the interpreter to present the target text at a faster rate and avoid excessive time lags.” When applied properly, it can be a very effective strategy to shorten the delivery time as well as the EVS, and thus brings about higher TT quality. Proper use of condensation requires the interpreter to be able to comprehend and analyze the source text at a macro-level.
The following paragraph quoted from Wu and Wang (2009, p. 405) reflects other researchers’ opinion regarding the importance of compression in SI:
Dam (1993) concluded that “text condensing” was a necessary and usually good interpreting strategy. Sunnari (1995) and Pochhacker (2004: 135) claimed that a “synthetic” rather than a “saying it all” approach rested on the basic strategy of “condensation.
Speech compression may be of different kinds according to the linguistic material reduced and on the semantic elements processed by the interpreter. Chernov (2004, p. 113) speaks of “syllabic, lexical, syntactic, semantic and/or situational compression.” Since it is not the primary concern of the present study to explicate the different types of compression and their similarities and differences, we will spend no more time on this. For a detailed explanation of these different types, see Chernov (2004, chapter 7).
An interesting point to mention about this technique is that it marks yet another difference between interpreting and translating. As we know, there is a typical tendency towards ‘expansion’ in “written translation in general” (Chernov, p. 118). This is in sharp contrast with the tendency towards compression in interpreting.
Summarization strategy is also used as a part of selection procedure in some interpreter training institutions. For instance Lim (2006, p. 220) states that the second round of the selection procedure at Ewha Womans University in Korea “consists of an oral exam, mainly summary exercises in both directions, for the interpretation candidates.”
2.5 Multiple Intelligences
Touching on the necessary prerequisites of a good professional interpreter, Russo and Pippa (2004, p. 410) quote Gerver et al. (1984) and Lambert (1992) as saying:
basic pre-requisites of a good professional interpreter are: profound knowledge of active and passive languages and cultures, ability to grasp the original meaning quickly and to convey the essential meaning of what is being said, ability to project information with confidence, coupled with good voice, wide general knowledge and interests and, finally, ability to work as a member of the team.
It is very clear from this observation that it takes more than a good linguist to be a good interpreter; apart from having an in-depth knowledge of the two languages and cultures, it is important to be quick at understanding and conveying meanings, to have a good voice, to be confident, to have general knowledge and enthusiasm, and to have good teamwork skills.
There is no doubt that interpreters need to have a perfect mastery over the two languages from and into which they work. However, there is certainly more to interpreting than meets the eye. As Seleskovitch (1999) holds, language skills “should not be mistaken for i
nterpretive skills” (p. 59). Gile (1995) says that the main interpretation schools in the West refuse to be deemed as language schools. Many other scholars (Davidson, 2000; Peterson, 2000; Seleskovitch & Lederer, 2002, as cited in Shaw et al., 2004, p. 88) have also identified “second language mastery and interpretation as discrete areas of skill” There are definitely other skills and capabilities which interpreting requires. “When practicing, a simultaneous or consecutive interpreter needs to acquire specific neurophysiological and cognitive strategies that go beyond the mere knowledge of languages.” (Daró, 1994, p. 253)
All this is enough to make one believe that the qualities shaping one’s intellect and intelligence are likely to have an influence on their success rate in the course of training to be an interpreter. In what follows, we will briefly touch upon the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner.
The investigation of intelligence is without a doubt one of the most controversial issues in the history of psychology. There have been different experts each approaching the issue of human intelligence from their own perspectives and contributing to the present-day frame of knowledge. Spearman, Thrustone, Cattell, Sternberg, Guilford (cited in Ghanavati, 2008), to name a few, are among the most outstanding ones. However, we will only be dealing with one of the most highly-welcomed theories in this field, i.e. the theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Gardner (1983).
He goes against the conception of intelligence as a unitary entity, but rather stresses that human cognitive competence may be better accounted for as a group of skills, talents and mental abilities which he calls intelligences. Gardner (cited in Richards & Rodgers, 2001) argues that all people possess these different intelligences, but they differ in the degree of strength in each of these intelligences and their combinations. All these intelligences may be improved through practice and