The image of the tightrope walker illustrates the interpreter’s balancing
act. Compelled to move forward at a pace set by someone else, interpreters
compensate for pressures and surges that might push them into the void. The
author starts from the observation that conference interpreters tend to see
survival as being their primary objective. It is interpreters’ awareness of
the essentially face-threatening nature of the profession that naturally
induces them to seek what the author calls “dynamic equilibrium”, a
constantly evolving state in which problems are resolved in the interests
of maintaining the integrity of the system as a whole. By taking as a
starting point the more visible interventions interpreters make (comments
on speed of delivery, on exchanges between the chair and the floor), the
author is able to explore the interpreter’s instinct for self-preservation
in an inherently unstable environment.
This volume is an insightful and refreshing account of interpreters’
behavior from the other side of the glass-fronted booth.