Telephone interpreting: understanding practice and identifying research needs

Uldis Ozolins


This paper looks at the fast growing but vastly under-researched area of telephone interpreting (TI), within the context of the radical changes in telephony in recent decades. It examines what has been established in our knowledge of the TI field and where further research is needed, both for technological issues but perhaps even more pertinently for practice issues. The scattered research effort so far has given us a patchy picture of TI, with inconsistent or uncertain findings on basic questions such as how interpreters and other participants coordinate discourse via telephone, or the use of first or third person, as well as more technical issues of the extent of use of mobile vs fixed-line phones, or which set-ups of TI are most effective. The research effort is hampered by abiding stereotypes of TI as an inferior form of interpreting, and by the lack of a theoretical basis for further exploration. Suggestions are made for starting points methodologically and theoretically to address such shortcomings.


telephone interpreting; telephony; technology; discourse; interpreters; Sign Language interpreting; spoken language interpreting

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