How about inclusive interpreting?

That’s the question raised by Beth Hanley in the workshop held on Monday 20th June, and hosted by Fanny Chouc, thanks to the support of LINCS and CTISS.

Beth, an MSc and MA LINCS graduate, drew from her MSc dissertation to design and run an engaging and thought-provoking workshop aimed at challenging the assumption that the cognitive effort required to use inclusive speech could be one too far for conference interpreters, whose work is already known to require a level of concentration akin to that experienced by airplane pilots.

This very topical subject attracted attendees from both sides of the Atlantic, with users of Italian, German, French, Spanish, English, Czech and BSL engaging in fruitful discussions about suitable and functional strategies to faithfully render a speech designed by Beth to deliberately feature a wide range of examples of inclusive speech.

The consensus established by Beth’s research and by the exchanges that took place during the workshop is clear: while it may not be appropriate to use overtly inclusive speech if it is not a feature of the source speech or a wish expressed by the client, if the original speaker does use inclusive speech, then the interpreter is duty-bound to ensure their rendition mirrors this intentional linguistic choice. And that is where the challenge begins, especially for strongly gendered languages such as French or Spanish.

To address the matter head-on, Beth used a cleverly penned speech of her own, featuring a selection of expressions known to present clear challenges for gendered languages, such as introducing one’s pronoun as “they”, or referring to professions such as “fireman”, which have an in-built gender dimension. Participants were invited to have an initial go at interpreting the start of the speech, before engaging in a discussion on how known inclusive writing strategies presented by Beth may be used to tackle the challenges encountered. Then Beth delivered the full speech, so that participants may approach the task better informed. And a striking 67% stated that they felt their rendition was more inclusive, following an introduction to inclusive expression strategies and a discussion on possible approaches to the challenge!

Beth’s compelling workshop perfectly illustrates the way in which LINCS graduates develop solid research skills and apply them to very current and relevant challenges presented by a constantly evolving profession, and society.

If you are interested in further talks or CPD on interpreting, translation and cultural studies, check the LINCS CPD page for coming events and updates on our training programmes on: