[JIF2017] The Interpreter’s Role: Perspectives of SI Pioneers in Japan

Kumiko Torikai

Professor Emeritus at Rikkyo University. She started her career as a simultaneous interpreter while she was still in college. She currently supervises and teaches a number of English conversation programs both on television and radio. Her written works include Mistranslations that Changed History, Interpreters and Post-War Japan-US Diplomacy, and English as a Common International Language. Her research areas are translation and interpretation theory, language communication theory, and language education.

The Interpreter’s Role: Perspectives of SI Pioneers in Japan

What is interpreting? What is the role of the interpreter? These are questions fundamental to our profession, and many tend to believe that there is a generally accepted answer among practitioners and researcher alike—but in reality, interpreters have diverse opinions about who they are and what they do. Some argue that interpreters must not add or subtract from the original, while others refute this notion, claiming that the act of interpreting would not be possible with such an approach. Pioneers of simultaneous interpreting in Japan—Sen Nishiyama, Yukika Soma, Masumi Muramatsu, Masao Kunihiro, and Tatsuya Komatsu— struggled with this very issue as well. The keynote speaker, who conducted long interviews with them and thoroughly analyzed their values and philosophies, will present her findings coupled with her own perspective as a simultaneous interpreter, and offer hints to tackle this conundrum that ultimately defines who we are.

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