Tensions are inevitably involved with simultaneous interpretation between languages. For instance, interpreters are invested in the management of the communication process so that they can adequately discern and convey interlocutor’s meanings. Interlocutors, meanwhile, are concerned with controlling the meanings being conveyed. These themes are evident in the discourse of professional interpreters talking about the challenges of providing simultaneous interpretation, as well as in the discourse of interlocutors talking about using interpretation services. One might presume that simultaneously interpreted communication is most effective when interpreters and interlocutors participate together to create meaningful interaction, yet the respective priorities of interpreters and interlocutors seem to be posed in opposition – as if there is no way to accommodate both sets of role-based needs.
Few opportunities exist for interpreters and interlocutors to hash out the implications of these differing prioritizations. Public opinion about simultaneous interpretation, therefore, is primarily shaped by expressions of frustration about the limits imposed by necessity. This seems particularly to be the case concerning simultaneous interpretation (SI) at the European Parliament. The actual gains and benefits of simultaneous interpretation as a cultural practice are not specified. Instead of naming and emphasizing the deep values embedded in acts of participation in simultaneous interpretation, justifications are presented in expansive rhetoric.
The right of an elected Member [of Parliament] to speak, read and write in his or her language lies at the heart of [the European Union] Parliament’s democratic legitimacy(1).
Preparing for the Parliament of the Enlarged European Union
Report of the Secretary General, document PE 305.269/ BUR/