Accuracy in telephone interpreting and on-site interpreting: a comparative study

Jihong Wang, Jing Fang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Although telephone interpreting is widely used in many countries, very little is known about the quality of telephone interpreting performance in social service settings. This paper reports on the findings of an exploratory study investigating the quality of a professional Mandarin/English interpreter's consecutive interpreting performance in one on-site interpreting task and two telephone interpreting tasks. All three tasks are simulations of authentic situations. This article has two aims. The primary aim is to compare the accuracy of the interpreting performance in on-site and telephone interpreting by using a meaning unit-based quality assessment framework. The secondary aim is to use a Conversation-Analysis-based micro-analytical approach to explore the nature of accurate interpretations (e.g. strategic additions, strategic omissions) and problematic interpretations (e.g. unjustifiable omissions, unjustifiable distortions), especially examining the motivations for these interpretations, the extent to which they are indicative of interpreting difficulties, and their impact on the triadic communication. A key finding is that the interpreter's performance was highly accurate in all three interpreting tasks. The micro-analytical approach has served to identify possible reasons for the interpreter's accurate and inaccurate interpretations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)36–61
    Number of pages26
    JournalInterpreting : international journal of research and practice in interpreting
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


    • telephone interpreting
    • on-site interpreting
    • quality
    • strategic additions
    • strategic omissions


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