The Interpreter’s discourse and its influence on the interpersonal relationship. Discursive and argumentative approaches.

This two-day international conference is organized by the Specialised Translation and Terminology Unit in the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation – International School of Interpreters of the University of Mons, Belgium, in collaboration with the Catholic University of Louvain.

Keynote Speakers

Hanneke Bot, Pro Persona – Institute for Mental Health, and Bot – Bilingual cOmmunication & Training
Yvan Leanza, Université Laval
Rafaella Merlini, Università di Macerata
Anne Reynders, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Using the conceptual tools of discourse analysis, more and more studies in public service interpreting highlight that an interpreted meeting, far from being a dialogue between two people where the interpreter simply repeats what has just been said in the other language, constitutes a complex interaction composed of different types of activities in which the interpreter is committed as a fully-ratified participant. The discourse analyst has the unique opportunity of comparing the interpreter’s verbal production to a reference discourse, which provides a way of making a meticulous analysis of the specificities in each discourse as well as of the interpersonal relations within the triad.

Amongst the interpreters’ activities, particular attention has been given to coordination within the interaction. Cecilia Wadensjö (1998) introduced this concept for the first time in the study of community interpreting, and showed how central it is to an interpreted interaction. The coordination concept has been the subject of much debate and has been particularly enlarged upon by contributors to Coordinating Participation in Dialogue Interpreting by Claudio Baraldi and Laura Gavioli (2012). The two authors put forward the notion of reflexive coordination: via this type of coordination, the interpreter empowers – or does not empower – each primary participant by giving them the necessary space to talk and by letting them be actively involved in the interaction.

Thus, through an entire series of verbal actions and non-verbal elements, the interpreter relays the other’s speech and coordinates the exchange, thereby establishing, promoting, or controlling the links between the primary participants and, by extension, influencing their interpersonal relations. In this respect, we put forward the hypothesis that this type of coordinating discourse also aims to adapt argumentative aspects of the primary participants’ discourse and that as a result it might be approached with some of the conceptual tools developed by argumentation theoreticians.

During this conference, we would like to dive into the heart of the interpersonal dimension of the triadic exchange by favouring a descriptive approach of authentic interactions through the analysis of the discourse and the argumentation, and in submitting the following questions to the discussion:

  • Intersubjective relations: how do the interpreter’s discursive and argumentative choices, whether conscious or unconscious, influence the intersubjective relation between the three participants? Does the interpreter facilitate or conversely form a screen to establishing an interpersonal relationship between the primary participants? Can the emergence of coalitions be discursively observed?
  • Positioning, ethos, and projection of Self: what are the subjective positions that are projected, accepted, negotiated, or rejected by the interpreter and what is their influence on the interaction? What are the specific stances adopted by the interpreter during the interaction? What is the interpreter’s impact on the discursive ethos projected by the primary participant?
  • Negotiation of form and meaning: how does the interpreter negotiate facethreatening acts? How does he/she perceive and transmit the argumentative strategies of the primary participants? Does he/she pursue his/her own line of argumentation independently to those of the main participants?
  • Mental Health and Somatic Health: if the view is taken that the interpreter participates in the construction of the therapeutic alliance, how does the mediator’s position manifest itself in the discourse? What impact does verbal and non-verbal, empathetic or non-empathetic behaviour have on the dynamics of the meeting?
  • Methodology: What discursive and argumentative analysis tools can be used in order to make the interpreter’s influence on the interpersonal relationship emerge?

 With this project, we would like to federate the reflection around intersubjective positioning within the triad, in order to contribute an in-depth knowledge of what is at stake in an interpreted interaction.

Working languages

English and French with simultaneous interpretation.