Lacunae, myths and legends about conference interpreters

a diary study to explore conference interpreting practice in China

Chao Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Conference interpreting is emerging as a profession in China, which creates a demand for qualified interpreters. Consequently, both academic and certification programs have been established to nurture and certify capable interpreters. These two endeavors will benefit from a detailed and empirical description of the interpreting practice, because such description can inform both pedagogical and test content. However, it seems that little empirical data have been collected in China to describe what interpreters actually do during a ‘conference cycle’. Given this situation, a diary study was conducted to explore the real-life interpreting practice in China. Major findings include: interpreters received a wide range of conference-related materials, but had insufficient time to prepare; preparation techniques interpreters employed to familiarize themselves with subject matters seemed to be time-dependent; interpreters performed a much greater variety of interpreting tasks than previously thought; and interpreters needed to work both into and from their A language, and frequently confronted an array of factors contributing to interpreting task difficulty. Considering the exploratory nature of this study, the diary results are expected to provoke thinking on the design of large-scale surveys to be distributed to a broader cohort of interpreters in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-457
Number of pages18
JournalPerspectives: Studies in Translatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • conference interpreters
  • interpreting practice
  • interpreting profession
  • simultaneous interpreting
  • characteristics of interpreting tasks

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