English for Conference Interpreting Purposes: A Corpus-driven Study on Multiword Constructions


Interpreters sometimes work from their A language (their native language) into their B language (their non-native language of which they have a perfect command). This direction is called retour interpreting. Retour into English as a B language is now generally expected and even a norm in parts of Asia. The market demand has driven training need for English B language enhancement for conference interpreting purposes. On B language enhancement, interpreting trainers suggest memorising stock phrases and fixed expressions to enhance output accuracy, fluency, and idiomaticity. This study aims to identify these word sequences empirically. Corpus-driven approach was first adopted to identify 4-word lexical bundles from a 664,732-word corpus composed of transcribed speeches interpreted into or delivered in English during European Parliament Plenary Sessions. These word sequences were further combined as more pedagogically meaningful multiword constructions (MWCs). The MWCs were then categorised based on their extent of specificity, functions, and meaning for conference interpreting purposes. Two major groups of MWCs were distinguished: Specific and Less Specific. Specific MWCs, referring to concrete concepts, are EU-related or non-EU specific. Examples include "the heads of State and government", "in line with the", and "to put an end to". Less Specific MWCs are less substantial in meaning, yet they help interpreters frame ideas and deal with the time and cognitive constraints of simultaneous interpreting. Examples include "I’d like to take this opportunity to", "which will allow us to", and "on the question of". Excerpts from the corpus illustrate how MWCs help interpreters develop discourse.

Author Information
Yinyin Wu, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2022
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon