Linguistic and cultural problems in interpreting between Chinese and English

  • Li Song-qin

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Recent years have witnessed many developments in using a communicative approach in language teaching, but little has yet been mentioned about how to teach interpretation, which is an important skill for many Chinese students of English. Interpreting involves a variety of complex tasks, such as the acquiring of language proficiency, general knowledge, cultural knowledge, and specific interpreting skills, among which linguistic knowledge ls a prerequisite for the study of interpreting, and cultural knowledge is of equal importance. The analysis of grammatical errors and cultural mistakes made by Chinese interpreters indicates that errors and mistakes are often recorded in areas where there is a significant difference between the languages and cultures of English and Chinese speakers. Such analysis also demonstrates that many errors and mistakes are attributed to interlingual or intralingual transfer in addition to idiosyncrasy, and to using the culture of the source language community as the norm in linguistic and paralinguistic behaviour. The errors and mistakes made can be traced to a lack of both linguistic competence and communicative competence. As the interpreter is an intermediary in communication between an addresser and an addressee, the quality of his output has considerable impact on the rendering of the message. Therefore, in order to avoid possible errors and mistakes which might impede communication, it seems necessary to add to the existing curriculum of interpreting in China such courses as will enable future interpreters to acquire both linguistic competence and communicative competence. The study of culture, which used to be neglected in the interpreting curriculum in China, must be seen as an indispensable component in the curriculum. The understanding of some aspects of the culture of English speakers can be facilitated by a communicative approach to language teaching, by the use of a large amount of culture-based authentic materials, and by the introduction of specific techniques usually needed in interpreting.
    Date of Award1983
    Original languageEnglish

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