Quality in interpreting: some methodological issues
Quality in interpreting is a frequently discussed yet little explored concept. As services are increasingly evaluated the way products are, with ISO 9000 and TQM having became the hallmarks of production in post-industrial societies, translation and interpreting cannot claim special status as "works of art", to be evaluated much the same way as gymnastics, dance or figure skating competitions. This is not to say that translating or interpreting lack artistic value or creativity, but current practice puts them squarely into the category of services; as such they become subject to performance evaluations similar to those carried out on products and other types of services. Especially interpreting, which in the eyes of the consumer carries a hefty price tag, is becoming the object of such evaluations. There is no point in lamenting the apparent loss of special status. As professional skills ha ve evolved since antiquity, and particularly since the Nuremberg trials - seen by most as a historical turning point with the introduction of simultaneous interpreting - the public is coming to expect more and more of interpreters, while at the same time judging their performance often too harshly. This is frequently done without bearing in mind the multitude of factors that can affect the quality of interpreting.
The Interpreters' Newsletter
Edizioni LINT Trieste
Barbara Moser-Mercer, "Quality in interpreting: some methodological issues", in: The Interpreters' Newsletter n. 7/1996, Trieste, Edizioni LINT, 1996, pp. 43-55