The Consequences of Fully Remote Interpretation on Interpreter Interaction and Cooperation: A threat to professional cohesion?
The emergence of conference interpreting as a profession, with the related formal attributes of a professional association, a code of ethics, and professionally-run training institutions, coincided with and was facilitated by the spread of simultaneous interpretation (SI) in the post-World War II period. SI enabled the increase in interpreted events and in the number of languages interpreted, thus accompanying the development of a multilingual institutional architecture. Whilst it also marked the beginning of a trend towards the greater distancing of interpreters from meetings, it led to greater proximity with peers, with the formation of interpreter teams. This helped to shape and consolidate informal professional attributes, such as a set of self-beliefs and norms. The greater physical distance of interpreters from the actual event has culminated in remote interpreting configurations of different types, the most extreme being full remote where interpreters interpret from their computers in separate locations.
On-site interpreter interaction encompasses many features, including practical forms of mutual assistance, but it also involves face-saving techniques, the sharing of knowledge and expertise, the alleviation of performance-related tensions and reinforcement of professional cohesion. Professional cohesion is understood here as compliance with a shared set of norms and adherence to shared beliefs, creating a feeling of belonging to and identification with the profession.
The use of remote interpreting involving interpreter home-working (henceforth called full remote) marks a sharp break with on-site teamwork, rendering some forms of cooperation difficult. In the following, we wish to consider how this might impact interpreter interaction and professional cohesion. To do so, a preliminary investigation of seven meetings has been conducted – two with interpreting on-site and five with interpreters in fully remote mode, with a view to identifying trends and patterns in interpreter exchanges in each. Preliminary observations indicate a notable reduction is some forms of interaction and cooperation. The intention of the article is to open up a new area of investigation and a new angle on the impact of remote interpreting on interpreters and the profession.
simultaneous interpretation (SI), fully remote interpretation, interpreter interaction, interpreter professionalization, history of interpreting
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