The impact of directionality and speech event type on target speech compression/expansion in simultaneous interpreting

Keywords: simultaneous interpreting, speech event, directionality, compression, expansion, DIRSI corpus


Simultaneous interpreting is a complex cognitive activity that can be influenced by several factors, including source speech features (e.g., delivery rate), contextual variables, working languages, and directionality (e.g., interpreting from/into one’s native or foreign language), among others. Owing to the time constraints inherent in this interpreting mode, simultaneous interpreters must make swift decisions on how to best deliver the original message into the target language. Although explicitation is considered a universal feature of translation and interpreting, it is also true that part of (redundant) information is eventually omitted. In fact, as opposed to translated texts, interpreting corpora show a general trend of interpreted speeches being shorter than source speeches (in terms of number of words). However, a closer look at the Directionality in Simultaneous Interpreting Corpus (DIRSI) partially disconfirms such a general trend. The DIRSI corpus consists of three medical conferences mediated by simultaneous interpreters (English/Italian). Each conference is analyzed in terms of speech length to ascertain to what extent directionality and speech event type may have an impact on the interpreters’ output. Results show that directionality cannot always be linked to target speech expansion, whereas the type of speech event is likely to play a role. In particular, this applies to the interpretation of source speeches under 500 words, as interpreters adopt optimization strategies to manage politeness, source speech ungrammaticality, and integrate contextual cues.


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How to Cite
Bendazzoli, C. (2023). The impact of directionality and speech event type on target speech compression/expansion in simultaneous interpreting. Research in Corpus Linguistics, 11(2), 1-29.