Ugarte i Ballester, Xus (2010). La pràctica de la interpretació anglès-català
Series: Biblioteca de Traducció i Interpretació 16. Vic: Eumo Editorial, pp. 174. EUR 25.00. ISBN: 978 84 9766 315 1.
La pràctica de la interpretació anglès-català (English-Catalan interpretation practice) is the first book in Catalan that focuses on interpretation training, covering both theory and practice in this field. As stated in its introduction, it departs from a holistic approach, integrating the traditional conference interpreting modalities (consecutive and simultaneous) and the emerging modalities that might be found, for instance, at Public Services, thus reflecting present-day trends in research and practice of interpreting. It is accompanied by a DVD where complementary material (video, audio and text files) to the exercises explained in the book is provided.
Its objectives are ambitious and range from the acquisition of strategies to speak in public to specific abilities for the practice of simultaneous, consecutive and liaison interpreting (self-monitoring, self-correction, language switching, concentration, memory and note taking, amongst others). Therefore, Ugarte's target readers also include those translation and interpreting undergraduate students that might not consider working as professional interpreters, but who want to improve their listening comprehension and oral expression skills.
The first part of the book contextualises and describes interpreting practices from several perspectives. It first provides an overview of the history of interpretation, briefly highlighting the milestones that have configured its evolution until present day. This overview is followed by a very succinct sketch of research in interpreting, where the author reviews some of the most paradigmatic contributions in interpreting research. Despite the prolific production that research has recently experienced in this field, as it is not the focus of the book, very few authors and theories are mentioned in this section and, therefore, it might be too brief for readers more interested in research topics. The third section exposes interpreting basic modalities and their variations. Following the holistic approach adopted by the author, interlinguistic transcription is also included in this section, regarded as a variation of simultaneous interpreting. The fourth section presents an introduction to community interpreting with a special focus on the Catalan context. The fifth is devoted to deontological codes, including reflections on ethical issues concerning the use of new technologies and even "interpreting without interpreter" or through multimedia programmes especially designed for this objective. This part concludes with a revision of the discursive genres that interpreters working in different areas may encounter. Two charts are included in this section, which become very useful when comparing registers among the various interpreting contexts and modalities.
After this first theoretical contextualisation, the second and third parts of the book include a total of 91 practical exercises divided into "preinterpretative" and "interpretative" activities respectively. Preinterpretative activities are aimed at enhancing essential competences in the practice of interpreting, either linguistic or extralinguistic (general knowledge and documentation skills). Linguistic competences range from mnemonics (mental agility, visual memory, concentration, analysis of ideas, synthesis, reformulation, key words and note taking) to speaking in public (oratory), specialised language (terminology, abbreviations and acronyms, idiomatic expressions) and other compensation strategies to overcome problems that may arise when interpreting (e.g. speech speed or accent).
Interpretative activities are classified according to the four basic modalities described in the first part: liaison interpreting—with exercises based on public services settings (court, police station, health care, education), business encounters and tourism—, sight translation, consecutive interpreting and, finally, simultaneous interpreting. Some exercises aim at promoting reflection on certain issues, some focus on specific aspects, such as numbers, while others try to highlight the importance of preparation before interpreting.
Several strengths must be pointed out in Ugarte's introduction to the interpreting practice: whereas the theoretical part provides the contextual framework necessary to understand the evolution of interpreting practices without exceeding in details or data that would deviate from the objectives of the manual, the parts devoted to exercises might be regarded as an excellent and complete resource bank for interpreting trainers and students. Even when not working with the same pair of languages as the author, most of the exercises exposed, particularly the great variety of preinterpretative ones might easily be adapted to other pairs of languages without losing their efficiency. Moreover, the classification of the exercises according to their objectives might be especially useful when designing academic programmes or teaching guides adapted to the new European Higher Education Area standards, where competencies, learning objectives, contents and methodologies are given considerable importance.
The part devoted to community interpreting and specific references to the situation in Catalonia, to the specific case of judicial interpreters or to new practices such as telephone interpreting, not only reflect the holistic approach claimed by the author, but also her will of offering an up-to-date review of current practices.
Last but not least, Ugarte's discursive style must also be praised, as her work is certainly a major contribution to the translation into Catalan of specific terminology related to interpretation. Furthermore, she finds the perfect balance in the choice of register for the book, which might be easily read by students unfamiliar to the topic.
Mireia Vargas Urpi, Dept. of Translation, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona