Vagueness as a recurring pattern in interpreted German speech
This article reports on a study comparing simultaneously interpreted and autonomously produced speech in order to determine whether or not interpreted language is characterised by any of the patterns that have been found to feature in translated text, such as those articulated by Toury’s (1995) law of growing standardisation and the law of interference. In the study, a comparable and a parallel corpus analysis were carried out using recordings of European Parliament speakers and interpreters. During the first, comparable phase, a corpus of interpreted German speech was compared to non-interpreted German speech in order to determine whether and how interpreted and non-interpreted language differ. During the second phase, a parallel analysis was conducted in which the interpreted German segments identified during the comparable step were compared to their English source language counterparts in order to determine the reasons for the production of the patterns discovered during the first phase. The results indicated that interpreters do not produce patterns similar to those that characterise translated text: neither the law of growing standardisation nor the law of interference was manifest in the data. Instead, a different feature, namely an increased degree of vagueness, which distinguishes the interpreted from the non-interpreted language in the corpus, was discovered.