Interlingual respeaking: a potential new career path for language professionals?

Respeaking is a widely used technique to provide monolingual subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing in many settings, especially on television. By contrast, interlingual respeaking (IRSP, i.e. respeaking between two languages whereby respeakers listen to live input in a source language and simultaneously translate it to a speech recognition software that turns it into written subtitles) is an emerging practice that is attracting interest both from industrial and academic stakeholders. It is an extremely challenging task crossing over disciplines such as subtitling, intralingual respeaking and (simultaneous) interpreting and involving human-machine interaction. The talk will firstly characterise IRSP, its potential areas of application and current demand for the service. Secondly, the talk will report on the insights gained from SMART (Shaping Multilingual Resources with Respeaking Technology), a project conducted by the universities of Surrey, UNINT and Vigo to assess the performance of subject groups with different backgrounds (simultaneous, consecutive, dialogue interpreting, subtitling and intralingual respeaking) to determine which skill set can best support the acquisition of IRSP competence. 26 subjects, all new comers to IRSP, were introduced to IRSP through the same 8-hour crash course and performed two IRSP tasks (English into Italian). Qualitative and quantitative data were collected, analysed and triangulated, namely micro-analysis of performances rated via the recent NTR model for IRSP quality assessment (Romero-Fresco & Pöchhacker 2017); users’ reflective comments; pre-/post- experiment questionnaire data. This pilot experiment is part of a wider project that will apply the same mixed-method approach to a population of professionals to address urgent questions for the industry, concerning the IRSP feasibility and how to train prospective IRSPeakers in a time-efficient manner. The talk will reflect on the implications of the study for language professionals, on IRSP as a potential career path and how findings can inform the design of effective courses.

Elena Davitti is Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Surrey (UK), Centre for Translation Studies. She holds a PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies from the University of Manchester and an MA in Conference Interpreting from the University of Bologna (Forlì).

Her teaching experience includes interpreting modules (consecutive, simultaneous, dialogue modes), Interpreting Studies and Research Methods, and she has recently launched an innovative module on Interpreting and Technologies at postgraduate level. Elena’s research expertise is in naturally-occurring (dialogic) interpreter-mediated encounters that she has analysed through multimodal lenses to look at the integration between verbal and embodied resources and their interactional consequences.

Her research extends to technologies applied to interpreting, particularly video-mediated interpreting, and innovations in interpreter education, as shown by her involvement in several EU-funded projects (co-investigator on AVIDICUS 3 - Assessment of Video-Mediated Interpreting in the Criminal Justice Service and EVIVA - Evaluating the Education of Interpreters and their Clients through Virtual Learning Activities; partner in SHIFT In Orality - SHaping the Interpreters of the Future and of Today).

Between January-September 2018, Elena has led phase I of the SMART project (Shaping Multilingual Resources with Respeaking Technology) on interlingual respeaking, funded by the University of Surrey, and is participating in phase II, funded by UNINT with the same partners (Surrey, UNINT and Vigo). She is co-founder of LARIM and member of AIM research groups on interpreter-mediated interaction as well as of the GALMA (Galician Observatory for Media Accessibility) and invited member of Board of Associates at ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies).

Elena has published in several outlets, including the journals Interpreting (John Benjamins), Qualitative Research (Sage) and Interpreter and Translator Trainer (Routledge) and she has recently co-edited a Special Issue of the Journal of Pragmatics (Elsevier) on participation in interpreter-mediated interaction.

Elena will be presenting with Annalisa Sandrelli.