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Importance of pronunciation in interpreting
Thread poster: Barbara Helisova

Barbara Helisova
Local time: 03:31
English to Czech
+ ...
Jan 18, 2006

Dear interpreters (or clients/recruiters),

Would you share with me your opinions and/or useful literature on the importance of good pronunciation in interpreting? I'm doing a post-grad diploma and need something substantial to document my essay. So far I have had no luck! The only resources that talk about pronunciation are ESL websites... not quite on target. I'd appreciate any links or personal insights.

Many thanks,
Barbara


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Dusica Cook  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 04:31
English to Bosnian
+ ...
contact me Jan 18, 2006

well... i do a lot of interpreting and it is quite important, but... if you need more specific answers and you would like to go into the question more deeply, feel free to contact me by skype or other means and i will be happy to help you

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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:31
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Narrowing the topic Jan 18, 2006

Hello Barbara,

In your research, do you mean pronunciation - as speaking with different accents, or using particular variety of a given language, or
enunciation, articulation - i.e. clear speech, voice emission, etc.

I guess the first will be more language specific, while the second is a matter taught at interpreting schools and subject to training. It is important for the audience - to hear and understand the interpreter clearly and for the interpreter - to save his/her voice. There are simple exercises which help to articulate properly.

I don't think I ever saw any specific articles on any of those issues, though.

Magda


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Barbara Helisova
Local time: 03:31
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
some further clarification Jan 18, 2006

Hello Magda,

Thank you for your reply. I was interested in finding out anything about pronunciation and interpreting... both regarding accents and correct enunciation, although the latter would be probably more important, as one can be understood when speaking clearly even with an accent. I am basically trying to find something that would prove or document that speaking clearly and correctly (i.e. not mispronouncing individual words) is vital for interpreting. There are plenty of articles on the voice as a tool in general, but not on pronunciation per se.

One of my questions is: Are interpreters that speak with a near-native accent more favoured than those that don't?

As far as voice training, in our course we had plenty of instruction on how to project our voice and also how to protect it, but not much was said about exercises to practice pronunciation and enunciation. I developed a few of my own techniques for our presentation, but now I'm trying to find sources that will actually lend some credibility to my claims.

Let me know if you have any further ideas!
Thank you,
Barbara

BTW, how come this is such an under-researched area?































Magda Dziadosz wrote:

Hello Barbara,

In your research, do you mean pronunciation - as speaking with different accents, or using particular variety of a given language, or
enunciation, articulation - i.e. clear speech, voice emission, etc.

I guess the first will be more language specific, while the second is a matter taught at interpreting schools and subject to training. It is important for the audience - to hear and understand the interpreter clearly and for the interpreter - to save his/her voice. There are simple exercises which help to articulate properly.

I don't think I ever saw any specific articles on any of those issues, though.

Magda


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:31
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Seems under-researched, indeed Jan 18, 2006

And you are right that actual exercises are not so easily available.
I practice one set, which actually someone has recommended to me as a beauty technique supposed to keep wrinkles away! I quickly discovered that this exercise helps a lot with proper enunciation and I usually do it when driving to the interpreting assignment
Will see how about the wrinkles ...

Magda

PS It would be interesting if you could share the results of your research. Good luck!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:31
Flemish to English
+ ...
voice-coaching Jan 18, 2006

I think the lady in charge of voice-training/coaching at the BBC was Liz Hathrell (at least in 2003).
You could write to them. King's English is the standard.
As for voice-training: I have been taught to take a deep breath and speak with my all my facial muscles (joke)...
It was the other way around :exhale while you speak pulling your belly muscles inwards so that air flows out of your mouth. You use this air to speak with the lower part of your face. You can train a particular vowel/consonant by reading texts in which those vowel or consonnants occur frequently and repeating them at high speed. And don't forget: Dearest Creature in Creation...

[Edited at 2006-01-18 20:25]


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andy77
Local time: 04:31
German to English
+ ...
Article on the importance of intonation in interpreting Jan 20, 2006

hi barbara

I can think of one article on this subject. A synopsis and extract is at...

http://interpreters.free.fr/reading/sim.htm

It is an article by Miriam Schlesinger, a leader in the field of interpreting research. She describes a small experiment in which it seems that, yes, bad intonation does affect what the listener understands.

all the best

andy77


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Barbara Helisova
Local time: 03:31
English to Czech
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Andy Jan 21, 2006

Hi Andy,

Many thanks for the link, I really appreciate it. I have finally found some information in two books, Introducing Interpreting Studies by Pochhacker and Bridging the Gap by Barbara Moser-Mercer. Your article goes well with what they say and expands on the subject. This will be very helpful... thanks again!

Best wishes,
Barbara


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Matteo Ippoliti
United Arab Emirates
Local time: 06:31
English to Italian
+ ...
User perception of quality Feb 4, 2006

I wrote my university dissertation on this subject (2 years of work!). According to most questionnaire-based studies carried out in the last 20 years (from Bühler 1986 to my study), accent and pronunciation are considered the less important parameters in the quality evaluation of an interpretation by users. There are also other studies (e.g. Shlesinger 1994 and Collados Aís 1998) which underline the importance of intonation and fluency. If you need further information I have a good bibliography on this subject.

[Edited at 2006-02-04 15:16]


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 21:31
English to Russian
+ ...
Important but... Feb 4, 2006

Barbara,

Accent and pronunciation of a British aristoctrat educated in Oxford would cause a lot of trouble for a Texas-born and raised oil engineer. No doubt, the opposite is also true:-).

I understand the reason for considering it "less inportant parameters" is just that - you can hardly find yourself in a "accent-uniformed" crowd; we, the interpreters, normally serve international communities.

I would put enunciation and delivery ahead of the two.

[Edited at 2006-02-05 05:54]


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Bibiana Jordan-Horvathova, MCIL
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:31
English to Slovak
+ ...
Interpreter's accent. May 29, 2006

Ahoj Barbara,
Just a quick thought re accents. I have never experienced that interpretera who in majority of cases are not English native speakers would be expected to use BBC sounding English or change their accent in any form. Of course a clear pronunciation (with accent) and correct vocab is a must!
There are many foreign teachers in primary schools in the uK and there is absolutely no evidence that their accent has any effect on children's learning or understanding.
People usually like the fact that foreign person/interpreter keeps their identity which accent is part of.
See some lectures/publications from Dr. Cenkova of Charles Univesrsity.


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