n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - 'Pressure players' or 'choke artists'? How do Zulu simultaneous interpreters handle the pressure of interpreting in a legislative context? : parallel / bilingual corpora

Volume 35, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



How do Zulu interpreters handle the pressure of simultaneous interpreting? In this article I examine the interpretations of four competent experienced Zulu interpreters in order to determine how they handled instances of increased on-line attentional resource consumption when interpreting under difficult circumstances, namely during sittings of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, South Africa. I found evidence to suggest that the use of loan words implies increased cognitive load for competent Zulu interpreters, who would normally attempt to avoid using loan words wherever possible for stylistic reasons, and who succeeded in interpreting the source segment without using a loan word on several other occasions. In other words, interpretation failures do not generally occur because the interpreters are not familiar with a term or concept in the source or target language. This is contrary to expectations, particularly since Zulu has a less developed technical register than English. The fact that the interpreters use loan words only when under pressure supports Gile's (1999) `tightrope hypothesis'. A second indicator of increased on-line attentional resource consumption during interpreting is the use of the enclitic -ke in Zulu. The highly marked incidence of -ke in the interpretations of both sittings could partly be ascribed to its use as a spoken discourse marker, but also to the fact that it plays an important role in assisting Zulu interpreters in managing both their attentional resources and their output. My findings are based on the analysis of a parallel corpus derived from transcriptions of dual-track recordings of the floor language and interpretations during two sittings of the Gauteng Legislature.

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