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Performance measurement in conference interpreting

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Performance measurement in conference interpreting

Conference interpreting refers to a setting in which a speaker delivers a speech in a different language than the listener’s, the interpreter’s role being to make possible the communication between the two parties involved. It can be done in two modes: consecutive (after the speaker has uttered a chunk of speech or the entire speech) and simultaneous (while the speaker delivers his or her speech).

Simultaneous interpreting is more popular, even though at the very beginnings of the profession, the interpretation was done exclusively in consecutive. However, today, the consecutive is used in one-on-one interactions, in politics and business, among other areas.

Although it does not seem at all complicated – since an interpreter only has ‘to translate’ what the speaker has just said, the reality is completely different, meaning much more complicated. Whoever has done it, knows that a lot of cognitive processes are involved and that there are many obstacles to overcome. Therefore, it would be useful for interpreters to evaluate their own performance more easily and in an efficient manner.

Below, there are a few possible performance indicators which would help an interpreter in assessing his or her performance, according to the process stage value to which it belongs:

1. # Difficulty index of the original speech

There are easy speeches, manageable speeches and very difficult speeches. A technical speech, for instance, will pose bigger problems than a narrative one, so there must be a lining when assessing the interpreter’s speech, given the fact that, in the first case, it is more likely to commit more omissions than in the second one. It’s an input indicator.

2. # Time for training

The time an interpreter spends training is very important, as it has a direct impact on the speech quality. The more time he or she spends to train, the better he or she becomes. It is also taken into account the time spent for developing a great general knowledge. This indicator is a process one.

3. % Compliance with ethics

An interpreter has to obey some rules of ethics, some examples being respecting the speaker’s point of view and confidentiality in some cases. Also, a process indicator.

4. % Attained interpreting quality criteria

The quality of the interpreter’s speech should be assessed in terms of structure (whether the interpreter has respected the structure of the original speech – no important omissions, additions or distortions), language quality and oral presentation. It’s an input indicator.

5. % Client and audience satisfaction

Another key indicator is represented by the client and audience satisfaction, showing clearly whether the interpreter’s speech has been well received or not. It’s an impact indicator.

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