Social identity at work: interpreter's grammatical choices and interpersonal alignment

Zhongwei Song, Yi Chen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This study explores the role Chinese government in-house interpreters have played at several high-level annual press conferences hosted by the Chinese government. By analyzing their interpreting choices for elements of MOOD, defined in the Systemic Functional Linguistic as a discourse analysis tool and using data from a self-built corpus consisting of multiple video clips of the events, this study has discovered that the interpreters realise a level of interpersonal alignment with only one party in interpreter-mediated communication, and that the choices of alignment are heavily affected by the interpreter’s evaluation of the power-relationship. The findings also suggest that although greatly constrained by their institutional roles, these interpreters remain as linguistic professionals. However, their grammatical choices demonstrate a tendency of their shifting social positions between the speaker and the addressees, betraying their deliberate efforts in embracing two roles in interpreting for the press conferences - one as inseparable part of the institution with allegiance pledged to the government, and the other as individual interpreters adhering to the norms of the profession.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-60
    Number of pages30
    JournalT&I Review
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2018


    • Chinese in-house interpreters
    • grammatical choice
    • interpersonal alignment
    • interpreter's role and social positioning


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