Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Necessity of the Study
The evaluation of interpreting performance has long been a popular topic ininterpreting studies. Over the past decades, scholars and professional interpreters(Bühler, 1986; Tissi, 2000; Mead, 2000, 2002, 2005) both at home and abroad haveassessed the quality of interpreting work from various aspects, includingquestionnaire surveys and empirical studies from the view of interpreters and theaudience respectively. Almost all researches concluded that fluency was one of themost important factors in the assessment of interpreting quality; in fact, fluency isusually the first impression which can influence the audience’s satisfaction and trust.Tissi (2000) pointed out that fluency of an interpreting performance is closely linkedto the absence of silent and filled pauses, repeats, restructuring, and false starts.Among the four elements mentioned above, pauses can be regarded as a trigger of theother three.According to Cecot (2001), pauses are “silent intervals of variable durationlocated between linguistic units”. The study of pauses is in fact an old aspect inlanguage production study,it is usually regarded as a sign of disfluency, or a signal ofpoor functioning of mental process. Yet some researchers (Chambers, 1997; Chafe,1985) argued that pause is a normal phenomenon in language production, prevailingin both first and second language contexts. Chambers (1997) mentioned pauses thisway:In our first language, we are more likely to hesitate when trying toexpress new thoughts, as in a seminar, than in a routine everydayexchange. Silences or pauses in the midst of an utterance indicate variouskinds of searches, from searching for an idea, or for the best word toexpress an idea to searching for a grammatical form. Whereas in the caseof native speakers monitoring morphological accuracy is unlikely tocause many hesitations, this occurs far more frequently where foreignlanguage learners are concerned, depending obviously on their overalllinguistic proficiency. (Chambers,1997: 538-539)Yet no equal attention has been paid to the pause study in the field of interpreting.Therefore, the importance yet insufficiency require a comprehensive exploration inthis regard.Among the few pause analyses conducted in the interpreting field (Raupach, 1980;Petite, 2005; Kormos, 2006), Chinese and English, as a language pair, is seldomchosen in empirical studies by researchers because of the language barrier. However,since Chinese is being used more and more frequently all over the world, moreattention is deserved to be paid to this language pair. Moreover, these studies werefocused on either consecutive interpreting (Mead, 2000, 2002, 2005), or simultaneousinterpreting (Tissi, 2000; Cecot, 2001); while the part of sight translation has longbeen neglected.Sight translation, a mode of interpretation which involves reading a written sourcetext and then delivering target-language sentences orally (Agrifoglio, 2004:44),received little attention in translation and interpretation studies, since it has not beenfrequently demanded by the professional market. However, in many official occasions,such as a presidential inauguration, UN conferences, or international summit meeting,interpreters are normally given speech texts in advance to avoid misinterpreting whichcould probably cause serious consequences. Moreover, sight translation is often usedby many interpreting training schools at entrance test, and also is added in theircurriculum as an introductory course to simultaneous interpreting. If pause proved tobe a factor in the assessment of interpreting performance, it should be monitored andcorrected at the initial stage of interpreting training. It is also one of the objectives ofthis research to shed some light on teaching and training of sight translation.
1.2 Objectives of the Study
Having reviewed the previous researches on pauses in the field of interpretingstudies, the author found that the existing studies were