LINGUIST List 24.2766

Mon Jul 08 2013

Review: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: Baraldi & Gavioli (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <>

Date: 23-May-2013
From: Zhiai Liu <>
Subject: Coordinating Participation in Dialogue Interpreting
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Claudio BaraldiEDITOR: Laura GavioliTITLE: Coordinating Participation in Dialogue InterpretingSERIES TITLE: Benjamins Translation Library 102PUBLISHER: John BenjaminsYEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Zhiai Liu, University of York

INTRODUCTIONThe primary focus of this edited volume is to explore the complexity ofinteraction in dialogue, community or public service interpreting. It consistsof an introduction and 12 chapters. The main contributions cover discourseanalysis and conversation analysis, sociocultural approaches to interaction,multilingualism and contact linguistics and how to combine studies ofinteraction with psychological or sociological theories (p.2). Specificattention is given in each chapter to a different aspect ofinterpreter-mediated interaction with various analytic methods and from aparticular perspective (p.xi). Empirical data were collected fromnaturally-occurring interactions in media, healthcare and legal settingsinvolving interlocutors from different language communities with differentforms of talk (pp.17-18).

SUMMARYIn the introduction, “Understanding coordination in interpreter-mediatedinteraction”, the editors Claudio Baraldi and Laura Gavioli point out that thebook’s focus is dialogue interpreting. Then, Baraldi and Gavioli lay outWadensjö’s (1998) concept of coordination as a theoretical basis for analyzinginterpreters’ activities and reflecting on the sensitive issue of theinterpreter’s role around three main notions: coordination, mediation andparticipation. This chapter also outlines the book’s organization and providesa brief summary of each chapter. The editors conclude with four areas offuture research directions and call for more in-depth reflection on how tointegrate social, cultural and cognitive competencies with the currentcomprehension of the interpreting process (p.17).

Chapter 1, by Helen Tebble, asks the question “Interpreting or interfering?”Instead of producing a simple answer, she first discusses in detail theexisting debate among scholars regarding the role of dialogue interpreters. Byanalyzing the professional role definition in the guidelines of the Code ofEthics of the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) anda study of medical interpreting in Australia, Tebble clearly demonstrates howthe interpreter coordinates and repairs talk when communication broke down dueto human errors. This study makes a clear contribution in distinguishing themetalinguistic function as a means of coordination from intentionalinterference such as addition or omission initiated by the interpreter.

The concept of participation is at the heart of Chapter 2, “Interpretingparticipation: Conceptual analysis and illustration of the interpreter’s rolein interaction”. Franz Pöchhacker provides a broad theoretical discussion onthe interpreter’s role and establishes multi-level frameworks according to thelevel of the interpreter’s involvement. The author then presents two sets ofvideo-recorded encounters selected from an existing larger corpus data, onefrom a hospital outpatient department involving a lay interpreter and theother one from an asylum tribunal involving a professional interpreter. Thisstudy reveals the complexity of the interpreter’s participation and arguesthat the interpreter’s participatory role is constrained by institutional andprofessional requirements at the event level and his or her activities aredecided by hyper-textual goals at the utterance level (pp.66-67). Furthermore,the author finds that the professional interpreter tends to be moreconstrained to the ratified interpreter’s role than the lay interpreter.Finally, Pöchhacker closes this chapter by urging future sociolinguisticresearch on participation in discourse to a cognitive perspective.

The context of chapter 3, “‘You are not too funny’: Challenging the role ofthe interpreter on Italian talkshows,” is an Italian interpreter-mediatedtalkshow, which differs from that of other chapters in the higher level ofinterpreter’s visibility and involvement. Francesco Straniero Sergio arguesthat due to the entertaining nature of live shows and the host’s control ofthe proceedings, the concept of controlling participation is more appropriatefor an analysis of the interpreter’s role management than the concept ofcoordinating understanding. This study demonstrates that the interpreter usesvarious face-saving techniques including corrections, repair-formulationrepetitions, requests for clarification, footing shifts, and acceptabilityrepairs and adopts “a multifarious mediation role” (p.95).

Chapter 4, “Ad hoc interpreting for partially language-proficient patients:Participation in multilingual constellations” by Bernd Meyer, portrays how apatient’s partial command of the host country’s language affects interaction,through two sets of recorded data of doctor-patient consultations assisted byad hoc interpreters in German hospitals. This chapter attempts to identify“how transparent language constellations shape the participation framework”(p.106) rather than the best way to deal with linguistic problems. Drawing onan observation by Valero-Garcés (2005), the author claims that there arepossibilities of shifting between dyadic and triadic and different types ofparticipation may exceed the widely accepted interpreter’s role in this typeof interaction.

Utilizing data from healthcare and legal contexts in two Italian citiesbetween 2003 and 2005, Chapter 5, “Code-switching and coordination ininterpreter-mediated interaction”, focuses on code-switching (CS) by lay andinstitutional participants. Laurie Anderson presents one line of research froma pragmatic-cognitive perspective and another from a linguistic monitoringperspective (p.116). Gumperz’s concept of contextualization (1992) is thetheoretical foundation. By describing and comparing CS in these two settings,the author shows a connection between CS and participation with theoreticaland practical implications for future research and interpreter training.Anderson argues that the coordination difficulties caused by CS require theinterpreter to raise their awareness of the flexibility of their participationand to develop their understanding of various participant behaviors ininterpreter-mediated interaction to fulfill their role of facilitatingparticipation.

Chapter 6, “Ad hoc interpreting in multilingual work meetings: Who translatesfor whom” by Véronique Traverso, explores the organization of sequentialityand participation when one participant in multilingual work meetings is notable to speak or understand English. She discusses the interpreter’s role andconversation analysis from a theoretical perspective. By analyzing theinterpreting coordination process, collaborative translation is identified asone of the specific characteristics of this type of context (p.166). Theauthor in addition considers that face-work and categorization and the shiftto and from translation are two important aspects of the interaction that needmore attention.

Ian Mason in chapter 7, “Gaze, positioning and identity ininterpreter-mediated dialogues”, argues that gaze direction and othernon-verbal signals are highly important for displaying attention (p.178) andmanaging speaking turns. The study is based on video-recorded immigrationinterviews. However, due to the difficulties of studying gaze and thecomplexity of this type of triadic interpreter-mediated interactions, theauthor has carried out detailed discussion of the arrangement of the researchmethod and has pointed out the unavailability of ideal corpus of data for thetime being. After analyzing various functions of gaze in connection with thatof other participants, Mason points out his reluctance to assign meanings togaze in the data due to cultural differences in the speech community. Masonfinds that gaze patterns closely connect with participants’ “role and status”and, as a result, imply their “identity and power” (p.178).

Laura Gavioli explores the mediators’ “Minimal responses ininterpreter-mediated medical talk” in Chapter 8 and summarizes vital functionsof turn management, some kinds of translation coordination, such as displayingunderstanding and acceptance of translation, suspending or shifting into thenext turn, which overall reflects the mediators’ efforts to achieveinteractional goals. The author begins with a theoretical discussion of thepragmatic functions and interactional achievements of minimal responses thenfocuses on the analysis of “yes”, “no”, and other completions and partialrepetitions (p.201) in audio-recorded data collected from Italian medicalsettings. A unique feature of this research is that the mediators involved arenot certified interpreters but qualified professionals who have been throughcertain socio-cultural, communicative and linguistic training (p.204), aspecific situation of Italian public service interpreting profession.Reflecting on the complexity of coordinating understanding and participation(p.215), Gavioli argues that the mediators’ minimal responses play importantcontinuing and transmitting functions for regulating turns and coordinatingspeech. In addition, skills for managing conversation will be valuable forboth working interpreters, interpreter trainers and researchers.

Chapter 9, “Mediating assessments in healthcare settings” by Daniela Zorzi,uses a conversation analytic methodology to describe both dyadic and triadicsequences in audio-recorded mediated encounters in the context of Italiangeneral clinics and public hospitals. She examines how doctor-initiatedassessment sequences are relevant to negotiating understanding andco-construction of the mediator-identity. This study acknowledges the multiplefunctions of the interpreter in the interaction such as culture broker,co-diagnostician, co-organizer. Finally, future research on patient-initiatedand mediator-initiated assessment sequences is suggested to understand thesituation of different mediators’ identities more effectively (p.248).

Recognizing that the concept of illness differs across cultural and languagecommunities (p.252), Claudia V. Angelelli in chapter 10, “Challenges ininterpreters’ coordination of the construction of pain,” focuses on thespecific case of describing and measuring pain in monolingual and bilingualmedical encounters. The author first introduces the disparity between theinstitutional mandatory numerical pain-rating scale and the patient’ssubjective way of communicating pain and points out that cultural andlinguistic differences increase the complexity of the situation. Analyzing twoexamples from a subset of data belonging to a larger corpus of ethnographicstudy carried out by Angelelli (2004) to explore the role of interpreters in apublic hospital in the United States, the author examines how interpretersprovide further explanation and co-construct the patients’ answer. In thisway, interpreters make the expression of pain from two linguistic communitiescomprehensible to each other (p.263). Therefore, the finding is that theinterpreters function as active participants in the interaction so thatcultural mediation is achieved for shared understanding.

Chapter 11, “Cultural brokerage and overcoming communication barriers: A casestudy from aphasia” by Claire Penn and Jennifer Watermeyer, deals with anotherinterpreter’s challenge, namely aphasic patients’ communication deficiency incombination with cultural and linguistic barriers. The interpreter-mediatedencounter presented in this chapter is carefully selected to reflect thegeneral situation of South African medical interpreting. Then the authordiscusses how Conversation Analysis is particularly helpful in understandingthe complex dynamics in such contexts. The interpreter adopts variousstrategies, especially side conversation to facilitate information flow. Thisstudy casts light on the medical interpreter’s role as culture broker toovercome the barriers of culture, worldviews and lifeworld; to assist inestablishing trusting relations though collaboration (p.289); and to ensuremutual comprehension of the patient’s lifeworld.

In “Interpreting as dialogic mediation: The relevance of expansions,” ClaudioBaraldi uses Baker’s concept of narrative (2006) as the departure point tointroduce dialogic mediation as the focus of this final chapter. Taking datafrom the same study used in chapter 5 by Laurie Anderson, the goal is todiscern the pattern of reflective coordination and how it may impact dialogicmediation from various perspectives. The author especially discusses indetails how co-authorship, trust and empowerment are achieved by themediator’s “promotional questions”, multi-part expansions and renditions asformulations. The key findings are: (1) dialogue interpreting promotes theconstruction of new stories; (2) dialogic mediation is personalized culturalmediation; (3) imperfect interpreting has a positive impact on coordinationand communication.

EVALUATIONThis book is well organized, with a clear focus on the notion of coordinationin dialogue interpreting. Every chapter opens with an overview of generalgoals, central terminologies, issues, implications of the study and context ofdata; and closes with a summary of the main contents discussed which helps thereaders navigate the text. The authors, researchers in this field from allover the world, tackle various aspects of the subject with consistency fromone chapter to another, giving the book thematic coherence. Each chapter showsreasonable knowledge of previous research, and provides in-depth dataanalysis.

However, the book has certain limitations. First, despite the editors’ effortsto gather studies representing a variety of contexts, the majority of authorsuse data from the healthcare sector, with only three sets from legal settings.Legal interpreting is a vital component of dialogue, community and publicservice interpreting with many unique characteristics. Therefore, the findingsof the chapters in medical contexts may not be generalizable tointerpreter-mediated interactions in legal and other contexts. Secondly,chapter 2, 10 and 12 use data from a larger corpus of data, but the authors donot show awareness of the possible limitations of working on a smaller sub-setof data. Finally, all the chapters favor the interpreter’s role as a mediatorwith a consensus voice. Although the main discussion revolves around thenotions of coordination, mediation and participation, other controversialviews may also be worth considering for a better understanding of thecomplexity of the interpreter’s role.

Notwithstanding the above weaknesses, this is generally an interesting andthought-provoking book. It is a merit that it acknowledges the interpreter’smore visible role, and suggests implications for interpreter education and fortraining institutional professionals working with interpreters. It will be avaluable resource for practicing interpreters, policy makers, interpretertrainers, those who are working with interpreters, and researchers.

REFERENCESAngelelli, Claudia V. (2004). Medical interpreting and cross-culturalcommunication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

AUSIT.(2009). AUSIT Code of Ethics. (Accessed 6 May, 2013).

Baker, Mona. (2006). Translation and conflict. A narrative account. London:Routledge.

Gumperz, John J. (1992). 8 Contextualization and understanding. Rethinkingcontext: Language as an interactive phenomenon, 11, 229.

Valero Garces, Carmen. (2005). Doctor-patient consultations in dyadic andtriadic exchanges. Interpreting, 7(2), 193-210.

Wadensjö, Cecilia. (1998). Interpreting as interaction. New York: Longman.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERZhiai Liu is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of York withresearch interest in the training of legal interpreters in the Britishjudicial system. As a working Public Service interpreter, Liu endeavors toexplore the interactional and cross-cultural issues of theinterpreter-mediated process with the aim of raising general awareness oflegal interpreting as a profession.

Page Updated: 08-Jul-2013