Chuchotage in community settings

Erika Gonzalez, Miranda Lai


This paper reports on a study which investigates the current status of chuchotage, or whispered interpreting, as a technique performed by community interpreters in Australia. The objective of the study is to understand the interpreters’ experience in providing this form of interpreting and identify the associated challenges. The aim is to inform future education for aspiring interpreters and continuous professional development for practitioners on this interpreting technique. Traditionally, chuchotage has predominantly been performed in international meetings and conferences. Therefore, it has been a staple skill taught as part of conference interpreting courses. This form of interpreting works more effectively than the consecutive mode in certain community settings, such as some healthcare consultations and courtroom hearings. In Australia, chuchotage is an essential skill for community interpreters operating at the professional level, and therefore has been added to the new certification testing that the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) has implemented since 2018. Prior to 2018, NAATI did not assess interpreters for this skill and, thus, when the new certification system was introduced, NAATI offered a one-day workshop as gap training, providing accredited interpreters with the foundations required for community settings. Through a post-workshop questionnaire, data were collected from 741 participant interpreters. Quantitative and qualitative data analyses provide insights into who among the practitioners performed this form of interpreting, the community settings where they provided such service, their self-appraised level of skilfulness, and the client feedback they received. Recommendations for future training in this technique are made based on the results.


Chuchotage; whispered interpreting; interpreter training; certification; professional interpreter.

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