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[Leeds Interpreting Studies Seminar] Formulaicity in Simultaneous Interpreting: A Comparative Study of Lexical Bundles in UN Security Council Speeches

Interpreting Studies
Wednesday 22 May 2024, 12:30-14:00 UK Time

Speaker: Prof. Dechao Li (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

Organiser: Prof. Binhua Wang

Abstract: Generating data from a comparable corpus that includes original English and Chinese speeches from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and their simultaneous interpreting, this study aims to explore the use of formulaic expressions in original speech and interpreted speech by analyzing the overall frequency of four-word lexical bundles and their typical discourse functions in these two language varieties. The results showed that interpreters used lexical bundles significantly more frequently than native English speakers, suggesting a higher level of formulaicity in interpreted speeches. This may be attributed to the substantial cognitive load imposed on interpreters and the processing advantage provided by lexical bundles. In addition, this study found that interpreters used a higher number of different four-word bundle types across the three broad functional categories than native speakers. This result indicate that the two groups of speakers may utilize distinct devices in producing their speech on comparable topics. That is, interpreters preferred to use formulaic expressions to achieve fluency, while native speakers showed greater linguistic variability and relied less on these pre-constructed chunks of language.

Speaker’s Bio:

Dr. Dechao Li is professor in the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He also serves as the chief editor of Translation Quarterly, a journal published by the Hong Kong Translation society. His main research areas include corpuses-based translation studies, empirical approaches to translation process research, history of translation in the late Qing and early Republican periods and PBL and translator/interpreter training. He has published over 70 articles in journals both published home and abroad. Among his most recent works was Transcultural Poetic (co-edited with Yifeng Sun) published by Routledge in 2023.