My thesis focuses on the activity of non-professional interpreting realised in multilingual institutional contexts by bilingual speakers who perform it spontaneously and in an ad-hoc way ("natural translation", Harris, 1977; Müller, 1989). Adopting a Conversation Analytical (CA) framework, I focus on turn-taking and on the mechanisms and resources by which participants coordinate their talk during the activity of oral translation. Research focusing on interpreting inspired by interactional approaches (see "dialogue interpreting", Wadensjö, 1998; Mason, 1999; Bolden, 2000; Davidson, 2000; Gavioli, 2009; Baraldi & Gavioli, 2012) has highlighted that face-to-face interaction mediated by an interpreter constitutes a specific speech exchange system and that the presence of an interpreter modifies the participatory configuration of the encounter and the sequential order of talk. These studies focus especially on the distribution of turns (the "turn-allocational" component) and less (but see e.g. Apfelbaum, 2004) on the way these turns are formatted from a syntactic, prosodic, semantic, pragmatic and multimodal point of view (the "turn-constructional" component), i.e. how they project and make recognizable a place where transfer of speakership is relevant and possible (Sacks et al., 1974; Couper-Kuhlen & Selting, 1996; Ford et al., 1996; Auer, 2002; Mondada, 2007). Indeed, once a consecutive translatory mode is established (once participants decide to translate "every turn" at talk) participants are faced with the practical problem of defining what this "turn" consists of: At which moment should the interpreter take the turn to translate? How can a unit of translation be defined? How do participants coordinate their talk and suspend the ongoing activity for inserting the translation? Which (verbal and non-verbal) resources are relevant for making this coordination possible? My study proposes a detailed analysis of the way participants negotiate transfer of speakership and perform transition to translation. The analyses have been conducted on a corpus (25 hours) of video-recordings of a 5-days international meeting during which different activities (conferences, big groups encounters, collective discussions) are supported by oral translation. Following a CA perspective, "collections" of similar phenomena have been established on the basis of fine-grained transcriptions. My research contributes to the existing literature on interpreting, sustaining, in particular, the collaborative and interactive nature of the translating activity. Moreover, even if focused on non-professional interpreting, my study highlights two main issues that could be relevant for professional interpreting. First, the central role played by multimodal resources: transition to translation is generally preceded by visual adjustments of the participants who, through their conduct (gaze, gestures, posture, walk), not only make intelligible what they are doing (and thus the "translatability" of what they are saying and doing), but also project and negotiate transfer of speakership. This suggests adopting an embodied and praxeological view of translation (vs a "logocentric" perspective). Second, the research shows that the units of translation are collaboratively and interactively negotiated (vs "fixed" units) and are not only the result of the interpreter's "decisions": on the contrary, the speaker being translated plays a central role in the definition of these units and, as a consequence, in the type and the quality of translation realised by the interpreter. The thesis finally discusses some possible implications of these analytical issues for interpreters' formation.
Merlino, S. (2013). Negotiating the Transition to the Translator's Turn: the sequential and multimodal organisation of oral translation. NEW VOICES IN TRANSLATION STUDIES, 10, 1-4.