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Durham University

Chinese Studies

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Publication details for Dr Binghan Zheng

2018 (co-authored with Xiang, Xia) 'Between Invisibility and Over-visibility: Self-perception and User Expectations of Liaison Interpreters in Business Settings', Babel 64, pp. 1-32

Author(s) from Durham


Recent research on liaison interpreting shows that the interpreters’ role in communicative events includes language facilitator and intercultural mediator. Being empowered with more coordinating functions rather than regarded as invisible conduits, however, how do interpreters with different professional experiences perceive their own role in business settings? And what are the actual expectations on them from their clients? This paper tries to answer the questions through a questionnaire-based survey of three groups of respondents: professional interpreters, student interpreters and clients, with each group including 30 respondents. Chesterman’s (2001) four models of ethics, together with the hypothetical no ethics model, were designed as answers to the questionnaire (17 closed questions) and translation versions to two interpreting samples. The frequencies of responses to the questions and the evaluation scores of the translation versions are collected and analyzed, revealing the following findings: All three groups acknowledge the constraints translation ethics place on the freedom of action; and all three groups agree that interpreters simultaneously shoulder the tasks of translating and coordinating, with the “ethics of communication” being the most widely acknowledged one. However, there are discrepancies between and within the groups, and even attitudinal inconsistencies and contradictions in individual participants. These findings, by re-describing the interpreter’s power in interlingual and intercultural interactions, will help improve professional standards and interpreting training.