Gile, Daniel (2009). Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training. Revised Edition.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 278. Hardback: USD 158.00 / EUR 105.00. ISBN: 978 9 027 22433 0. Paperback: USD 49.95 / EUR 33.00. ISBN 978 9 027 22432 3.
5 years after publishing Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator Training, Daniel Gile, a leading light in the world of interpreting research and a prolific author and experienced trainer of student interpreters, offers a revised edition of his landmark work on interpreting didactics. As the author states in the preface, the reality of the validity of the first models took precedence over the initial idea of presenting a new book. Thus, the author chose to revise, clarify and update the contents, which provide the reader with the conceptual ground to fully understand the translation and interpreting processes. Furthermore, the author includes references to new emerging fields such as public service interpreting and signed language interpreting, which are likely to be a major object of study for the scientific community in the coming years.
Written in 1995, the book has become one of the most widely used works in interpreter training worldwide and one of the most quoted by the international translation studies community. Gile now offers a revision of the original work, aimed at practitioners of conference interpreting and translation, interpreters who are not engaged in training but interested in the basic features describing the phenomena they encounter in professional practice and, especially, at translation and interpreting students, who will find in the concepts and models presented in the book some answers to the difficulties they face in their learning process. As in the previous edition, the author is centred on translating and interpreting, with the objective of dealing with the similarities between both practices, which, in his view, are closer than traditionally considered.
In the first chapter, the author discusses the theoretical components in interpreter and translator training. In his words, theoretical components can contribute to a better understanding of phenomena, difficulties, strategies and tactics, thus helping students to advance further and faster while maintaining appropriate strategies. Along the same lines, the author breaks down the basic components of translation competence, defending a process-oriented approach in translator training which is centred around principles, methods and procedures rather than on the translation product. Nevertheless, he emphasises that training must be complemented by more traditional, result-oriented correction. In the second chapter, devoted to communication and quality, the author introduces the distinction between macro- and micro-level aims in language communication, as well as a discussion of the behavioural components of translation quality. The third chapter analyses fidelity and adds the cultural component to the concept of Linguistically Induced Information. At the same time, he extends the debate on fidelity in relation to the message and secondary information. In the fourth chapter he underlines the importance of linguistic and extra-linguistic knowledge in the understanding of specialised discourse in translation and interpreting. In the fifth chapter he presents the Sequential Model of Translation, which describes and explains a path in the translation process which takes the translator from the source-language text to the target-language text. The model is basically targeted at translation students, although, as the author points out, it also has some use in interpreting, taking into account the practical element and its importance in error-analysis. Gile reminds us that good translation involves responsible decision-making by the translator. In chapter 6, devoted to ad hoc knowledge acquisition in interpreting and translation, the author stresses the importance of the acquisition of specific information for conference interpreting and written translation. Apart from describing the different sources of information for the translator and interpreter, Gile mentions the convenience and advantages of on-line information, but advises the student to question the information credibility.
The author thoroughly describes the Efforts Model in Chapter 7, which has been significantly revised compared to the first edition of the book. In particular, it introduces the term working memory, although it also continues to use the term short-term memory, and he gives a broad explanation of their similarities and differences. Moreover, he also presents the Tightrope Hypothesis, which states that problems occur in interpreting when total processing capacity requirements exceed available processing capacity (saturation), and when processing capacity available for a given effort is not sufficient for the task the interpreter is engaged in within a given time (individual effort). In this chapter, the author's considerable effort to relate his model to current cognitive psychology theories is also worth noting. Along the same lines as the preceding chapter, Chapter 8 reflects on the difficulties that interpreters can face in both comprehension and reformulation. The author describes a series of tactics, a practical component of interpreting skills, which can be applied in order to deal with the difficulties. In Chapter 9, the author discusses language availability and its implications in conference interpreting (and translation). The references to cognitive studies are also interesting, as is the part dedicated to analysing the directionality question. Lastly, Chapter 10 presents the greatest number of variations in comparison to the previous edition. Whereas in the first edition Chapter 10 systematically revised publications on translator and interpreter training, in this new version the author presents the reader with a general concept framework, closely linked to training issues, which aims to present translation theory in a more practical and comprehensible way.
Regarding the structure of the book, following its objective to answer some of the questions and problems that arise during the process of teaching and learning translation and interpreting, each chapter finishes with specific advice to teachers and a summary of the main ideas in the chapter.
Several generations of students, teachers, researchers and practitioners have used Gile's book as a reference work. Now newer generations can also benefit from the author's thinking on didactics as presented in this revised edition, adapted to the changing times and the constantly evolving disciplines of translation and interpreting.
Marta Arumí Ribas, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.