English is the first global lingua franca. The growth in the number of ELF users goes hand in hand with an exponential increase in the number of texts and speeches produced by non-native English speakers in international lingua franca communication. While conference interpreters are primarily trained to interpret from native speaker input, this new ELF reality sees them confronted with wide-ranging non-native English source input. Some report it being even more commonplace than native English. Interpreter complaints abound. They report taxed resources, tiring assignments, frustrating source input, adversely affected motivation and declining job satisfaction. A SCIC insider offers little sympathy: ‘Oh well, interpreters always complain’. And besides, ELF research provides evidence of successful communication in ELF contexts, contrasting with interpreters’ reported observations. Are interpreters imagining unwarranted impediments or are they facing up to genuine challenges?
In this seminar, we will explore the nature of ELF and the potential pitfalls it harbours for interpreters. I will present insights from research looking into ELF in relation to interpreting and translation (ITELF) and discuss preliminary results from the CLINT (Cognitive Load in Interpreting and Translation) project that uses multiple methods to answer questions relating to whether or not ELF input actually impacts interpreters’ processing and performance.
About the Speaker:
Michaela Albl-Mikasa is Professor of Interpreting Studies at Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Her research and publications focus on interpreting, translation and English as a lingua franca (ITELF), the cognitive foundations of conference and community interpreting, note-taking for consecutive interpreting, interpreter competence and medical interpreting. She was a member of the Executive Council of IATIS from 2016 till 2021 and is currently a member of the Board of the European Network of Public Service Interpreting (ENPSIT). She is principal investigator of the interdisciplinary Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Sinergia project ‘Cognitive Load in Interpreting and Translation’ (CLINT) and editor, together with Elisabet Tiselius, of the Routledge Handbook of Conference Interpreting.